PATERSON - The president of the Paterson Education Association says he wants the Guardian Angels to protect the community during back-to-school night.
President John McEntee is calling on the volunteer security group in the wake of recent instances of violence in the vicinity of Paterson schools.
“There shouldn't be a disparity between towns like a Livingston, which canceled their back to school night, and a Paterson,” McEntee says. “We don't look at our parents or students any differently.”
Back-to-school night in the Livingston school district was canceled after someone posted a threatening message aimed at the high school on social media. Police investigated the threat and determined it to be unfounded.
McEntee says that his priority for back-to-school night is safety. But he says staffing and budget cuts in school security are making it difficult. Parents and students would have to walk to the school late in the evening for the event and McEntee says that would be dangerous.
The Guardian Angels have stated on social media that the group will come to Paterson. They may meet with the teachers union next week. The Guardian Angels have protected Paterson before in 2011 after police layoffs.
McEntee says the group would be able to escort parents, students and teachers to the schools on back-to-school night.
“I've never been more confident in a decision I've made,” he says. “They know the area. They know what's going on. I think it would be fantastic.”
Some parents say that it is a sad state of affairs to need to bring in an outside group for protection.
“It speaks to the disgrace that the district has had to endure because of the illegal underfunding of our school system by the state of New Jersey,” says Corey Teague, whose child attends one of the Paterson schools.
Back-to-school night will be held on Sept. 20, 22 and 27. The Paterson School District did not respond to requests for comment.