NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—The school district's top official confirmed what an anonymous source told New Brunswick Today about an incident where students at New Brunswick Middle School were made to run outdoors in cold weather.
Superintendent of Schools Aubrey Johnson said on January 18 that he was aware of the controversial December 23 incident, which rubbed some in the school community the wrong way.
"Yes I am aware of that. I had some internal conversations, and that's as far as I'll comment on it," said Johnson in response to a question from New Brunswick Today.
Johnson said he support the Middle School's Principal Jeremiah Clifford, the same man who our source said was responsible for the "act of corporal punishment."
Clifford allegedly "had approximately 30 students run around the outdoor track because they came to school without the proper uniform on," according to the source.
It all went down on the last day before the school's Winter Break, which was a half-day, according to Johnson.
"Although approximately 75% of the entire student population was not in uniform on this day, Mr. Clifford randomly chose the students who ranged from grades 6th-8th.
Normally students would get a warning and, according to one student, they would get after school detention for a subsequent offense.
Students told NBToday they did not have their uniform because they do not like it and other said they had not done laundry.
Another source told us that the inclusion of students from all three grades helped unravel a cover story that it was all just a gym class.
According to weather reports, the temperature in New Brunswick on December 23 was just 40 degrees.
Parents agreed that the actions allegedly taken by the principal were unreasonable, and that the students at least should have been given an opportunity to get their jackets.
Pressed on the incident, Johnson defended Principal Clifford.
“I've noticed, personally, the patterns of concerns that have come up for the Middle School and, publically, I just want you to know... I do support the middle school," said Johnson. "I support Mr. Clifford in terms of what he has done in the Middle School moving forward...
"School related issues will happen and we will deal with it accordingly," said Johnson. "Just for the record, I do support what's happening in the Middle School... but we will have little things every now and then, and they are dealt with."
Johnson also mentioned that the students "were not there to run," and that he knew that some students were walking.