Bomb threats have parent questioning cell phone rule


It is bad enough when a school has to be evacuated twice in one week because of bomb threats being made against the building. In those instances, thousands of students and staff members must quickly leave the premises.

Freehold Regional High School District Superintendent of Schools James Wasser said what makes the situation all the more upsetting is when he has to witness disabled and special needs students, particularly those who use a wheelchair, struggle to return from the designated safe area into the school.

Wasser made his comments about the bomb threats during the Jan. 26 meeting of the FRHSD Board of Education. He was referring to a pair of bomb threats that were made against Manalapan High School on Jan. 23 and Jan. 26.

In both of those instances district procedure was followed and the building was evacuated. Law enforcement personnel responded and searched the building. No explosive devices were located on either day.

FRHSD spokeswoman Ilse Whisner said, “If [the bomb threats] were to continue, we could and would cancel all activities including the junior and senior proms. We don’t want to do that and it hasn’t been necessary for us to do that. At this time we will not do it, however, it could come up in the future.”

Judy Weisinger, parent of a Manalapan High School student, questioned the stringent measures as well as the district’s cell phone policy during an emergency.

The FRHSD’s cell phone policy states that students’ cell phones must be kept in their locker and turned off during the school day. Wasser told Weisinger, “We do not permit the use of cell phones during an evacuation. It causes havoc, which in turn makes us lock down the area. We just initiated Parent Link, a system that has the ability to call many telephone numbers in a matter of minutes.”

Wasser said Parent Link was used to notify parents about the Jan. 26 bomb threat at Manalapan High School. He said the system will be updated to include parents’ work and cell phone numbers.

In regard to the possibility of canceling a prom, Wasser said, “If these bomb threats continue, we will have to do more stringent things to send a clear message.”

He said that extreme measures like this have only helped in the past.

During the Jan. 28 meeting of the Manalapan Township Committee, Committeewoman Michelle Roth said the two bomb scares at Manalapan High School resulted in 40 hours of police man hours to respond to those incidents.

Roth said police are still searching for the person or persons responsible for disrupting the school day by making the bomb threats.

In other business at the Jan. 26 FRHSD meeting, some residents once again asked Wasser to return the money that was expended in his pursuit of an advanced degree from Breyer State University. The online university has been discredited as an apparent diploma mill.

Resident Gloria Close of Manalapan said, “In good conscience, return the money now. We will move on once the money is returned.”

Residents also questioned the $735 monthly lease the district pays to lease a 2008 Buick Enclave for Wasser.

It was stated that the practice of leasing a vehicle has been in place for about 30 years.

Residents asked the board to take the depressed economic climate into consideration and to scale back the district’s expenses.

Resident Michael Fishman of Marlboro called the entire board unfit.

“This is a very unfortunate group of constituents. For many months we have sat here in front of this embattled superintendent and attorney who aren’t working for the board or the district. This is a sad group of board members who do not consider the interest of these children.

“This is not a proper board for such a large district and so many students with aspirations. There are now four seats up for election [in April]. If you plan to be reelected, we are going to fight like crazy. You have no chance. If you don’t want to be disgraced, don’t run,” Fishman said.

The seats presently held by the board president, Patricia Horvath of Manalapan, Joan Leimbach of Howell and Bunny Hammer of Freehold Borough will be on the ballot in the April school board election. Those seats will each carry a three-year term. In addition, a two-year unexpired term for the board’s Marlboro representative will be on the ballot.

“We need strong character people who will look at Mr. Wasser objectively and make strong decisions to move this district in the right direction. We do not have that today,” Fishman said.

Wasser then addressed those in attendance and asked them “to stop discrediting this district.”

“I have put my blood and soul into this district for 22 years. However, I am only a part of it. Stop discrediting this school district,” Wasser said. “You can say whatever you want about me, but when you say what you say, you are defaming the school district.

“I asked for eight months for all of you to make an appointment with me, to answer all of your questions. Stop discrediting this district. I have been [the superintendent] for 11 years. I will finish my contract. Stop what you are doing. If you want to talk to me, I’m a big boy. Make an appointment, come sit down face to face. It would be a delight for me,” the superintendent said.

Some people who were in the audience applauded Wasser’s statement.