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West Orange Interim Superintendent James O'Neill Responds to NBC-TV School Security Report

Cynthia Cumming

Friday, December 13, 2013 • 10:48pm

WEST ORANGE, NJ - On December 11, the NBC-TV Today Show aired a report by Investigative Reporter Jeff Rossen on school security in the wake of the December 2012 Newtown tragedy in Connecticut.  Rossen visited 5 schools in northern New Jersey to ascertain the effectiveness of school security protocols.

Of the five schools, only Tuscan Elementary School in Maplewood, which Rossen 'visited' on December 5, failed to provide successful security efforts.  Rossen was buzzed in to the main entrance and did not enter the main office to check in.  He then proceeded to walk the hallways, even stopping by a classroom.  School officials and the PTA were shocked to find out the results of Rossen's undercover operation, saying it was a 'wake up call'.

Schools in New York fared much worse, with 7 out of 10 schools failing to employ successful security protocols.

Hazel Elementary School, located in West Orange, was one of the schools Rossen selected for his undercover report.  

West Orange Interim Superintendent James O'Neill provided the Alternative Press with a statement regarding Rossen's visit to Hazel.

"Close to the anniversary of the tragedy in Newtown, Ct. the Today show sent reporters to see if the security measures that had been talked about were in place. They went to multiple schools and tried to gain access. If the reporter got into the building he tried to walk through the school without reporting to the main office. Schools were chosen randomly and one of the schools was Hazel Elementary in West Orange.

Someone from the Today show called me later in the day to say we passed with 'flying colors'. They were impressed by the process and the fact a staff person came to the door so there would have been no opportunity to walk through the school without reporting to the office. I commend all of our principals. They have been very diligent in the implementation of security procedures we discussed with the police. I think the reporter would have been equally impressed at any of the other 10 schools in West Orange." View the video report here:

http://www.today.com/video/today/53798866.

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