Secaucus High School principal Dr. Robert Berckes publicly defended himself following his highly-publicized suspension and was harshly critical of superintendent Jennifer Montesano.
Berckes was suspended along with vice principal Jeffrey Case in April over allegedly mishandling discipline for a student that was caught with marijuana and a pocket knife. The student was suspended and the knife and drugs were disposed.
However, Berckes spoke out at a school board meeting last week, claiming that Montesano was aware of every decision that was made. Berckes also said, “I do believe the superintendent is out to damage my good reputation.”
Berckes spoke for 7 1/2 minutes and his full story was published in The Jersey Journal. Some highlights:
- Berckes said the student was found with a pocket knife and given a two-day suspension since it was not intended as a weapon
- The suspension was extended to five days when the marijuana was discovered. A police officer at the school declined the charge the student and flushed the marijuana down the toilet.
- Montesano was notified of every step being taken and did not protest.
A portion of the speech was uploaded to YouTube by NJ.com:
The incident is currently under police investigation and Montesano responded with a statement that said:
“Neither I nor the Board can comment on the opinions expressed by a members of the public on specific personnel or student matters because of the privacy rights held by those individuals. Those who have expressed their opinions about this ongoing investigation have done so without the benefit of all of the facts that have been determined and remain to be determined.”
For his role in the incident, the officer assigned to the school was reassigned.
Secaucus will hold its next school board meeting on May 24.