Letter: Holmdel Board Response on Ramapo Ruling

Holmdel BOE President Barbara Garrity responds to discussion over the recent state Superior Court of Appeals ruling on the Ramapo Indian Hills BOE conduct policy.

While I appreciate Mr. Collins’s discussion of the most recent Ramapo ruling, I don’t agree that decision invalidates our existing district policy and Code of Conduct.  Under the Ramapo decision, the language of our policy is fine.  The key will be how it's applied on a case-by-case basis.

The first Ramapo ruling came down when Mike was still on the Board.  As we discussed the Code of Conduct then, the issue was that some Board members wanted to eliminate completely our right to impose on-campus consequences for ANY off-campus misconduct.  They thought such misconduct should be addressed only by parents and law enforcement.  However the majority of the Board felt that we should keep this discretion, permitted by statute and regulation, because we could envision situations in which off-campus problems could become an on-campus safety and discipline issues -- e.g., gang or other fights, driving so bad that it endangers the safety of others, etc.

Information about off-campus misconduct typically comes to the district through police reports triggered by the Memorandum of Agreement between us and law enforcement, which the state requires for all school districts.  I would note that as a practical matter it has been rare for a student to lose on-campus driving privileges.  Usually the counseling-type discussion between student and administrator that follows a first serious driving violation report reminds the student both of the need for care while driving in our crowded parking lot, and of our desire to keep everyone on campus safe, including him or her.

We will continue to apply on-campus consequences for off-campus misconduct when that misconduct rises to the level where it poses a significant risk to student or staff safety and security, and also materially and substantially interferes with school discipline.  We will continue to rely on the advice of counsel in reaching that determination on a case-by-case basis. 



Barbara Garrity

President, Holmdel Board of Education

Chief August 10, 2012 at 06:36 PM
While my stance on the government is usually no government is the best government, in this case I agree with the district's policy. I know I will receive some flak, but here is my opinion (let me emphasize opinion): the parking lot is one of the most dangerous driving environments, especially for new drivers. I realize that there aren't many accidents in parking lots, but the probability of accidents occurring in parking lots is much greater than on Rt. 35. And the consequences are typically much greater in a parking lot considering the amount of pedestrians walking around. Exhibit A: the recent incident in the Holmdel Towne Center. How does this apply to the district's policy? Well the reason why the district's policy is currently in place is because of the "parking lot driving" at Holmdel High School.
Chief August 10, 2012 at 06:46 PM
... I have been out of high school for a bit, so I don't remember the exact policy, but if I recall, students who received a moving violation by the Holmdel PD received a warning for their first offense, a meeting with an officer for their second offense, a suspension for their third offense, and finally a removal of driving privileges on their fourth offense. If my child received four tickets, (1) he wouldn't be on my policy and (2) he wouldn't be able to drive until he graduated college. It seems like it would take an idiot to rack up that many violations. I am not saying I am a perfect driver, nor am I saying I drive like a slow poke either. In fact I learned my lesson after one incident ... drove 65 mph in a school zone (not in Holmdel). Luckily that day I did not receive a ticket and even more importantly I did not kill anybody. Driving is not a right of passage because you turned 16. Driving is a privilege.
bud August 10, 2012 at 07:48 PM
Now, now, we must all feel good about ourselves. No more tests either and everybody gets accepted to Harvard and Princeton. The Good Fairy will take care of all!
Bob Stevens August 10, 2012 at 08:03 PM
Do you actually think that every police department in the area is going to notify Holmdel HS evertime they issue a summons to a Holmdel student? What about every police department in the state? What about the State Police on the parkway? If Holmdel Police are the only ones providing information on tickets issued to Holmdel students, how is this policy fair?
Chief August 10, 2012 at 10:27 PM
If I recall, the policy currently states that only Holmdel Police reports are used in this case.
Bob Stevens August 11, 2012 at 01:49 AM
If only Holmdel Police reports are being used, then dangerous driving violations that occur in other towns will not be included. If the school does not find out about these violations, such as driving that affects the safety of others, then this policy will do nothing to increase student safety.
Jennifer August 11, 2012 at 01:45 PM
Wow, I hope you are 13 with an answer like that. " not fair" , as in, if some people get away with doing something wrong, it is not fair if I can't get away with it, too? It is not a perfect solution, but it should remain a tool in the kit. Safety trumps fairness, IMHO.
Jennifer August 11, 2012 at 01:49 PM
Not nothing. This policy will not catch every case of bad driving, but it will do something. At least it will be a red flag, and if someone's racking up that many moving violations, chances are at least some of them will be close to home, in the students comfort zone and most frequented area. Even if they don't reach the point of a suspension, meeting with an officer might make them a little more careful....


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