Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Revise Bullying Laws & Ensure Racial Equality to Gov Christie in Public Meeting


SUMIT GANDHI SPEAKING TO GOV CHRISTIE YOU TUBE

12 yrs old Sumit Gandhi a Hindu, request New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to ensure Racial Equality & Equal Rights with Jews & Christians of his town and Changes in HIB/Bullying Policy for Elementary & Middle School Students in a Public Meeting on December 21, 2011 in Spotswood NJ.


                                                            
ADDRESED TO GOVERNOR CHRISTIE ON DEC 21 AT A PUBLIC MEETING

Good Afternoon to Governor Christie and every one present here. My name is Sumit Gandhi and I am 12 yrs old. Recently in a similar public meeting the Governor advised Zack Martini a sixth grader from my School about how to win in School elections. Unfortunately Zack still lost the election. Since only the Governor has the solution to my problem that’s why I am here. I did sent a letter to you Sir with a request for personal meeting.  I know that you are a very busy person for that reason I have traveled all the way from Springfield to meet you here in Spotswood by taking a day off from my school.

“With due respect to the Governor and every one present here, I have a question for each one of you. Mike said there will be a special bus taking Joshua home later and asked “Right Sumit” Sumit is my first name”. All I said was “Yeah there is” and I walked away from the scene. Both Mike and Joshua are not my friends I do not socialize with them at all. With Joshua I have Spanish and with Mike I have Spanish and Band as common classes. Accidentally I was with them for less than Three minutes. I request the Governor to tell me if this was bullying by me? Please Sir answer with your yes or no only and if you don’t want to answer Sir please say so. After that only I will tell you Sir what my School Supervisor has to say about this.

My Supervisor Michael Plias says I have done bullying and he forced me to write I bullied Joshua to be funny and cool. For Mike Mr. Plias is saying Mike realized after speaking with him that what Mike said to Joshua was wrong. If I have done bullying according to Mr. Plias how come Mike who made the actual comment and initiated the incident has not done bullying? Just because he is Christian he has not done bullying and myself being a Hindu has done bullying by saying “Yeah there is” to Joshua from Jewish community that controls the township of Springfield and its School Board.

Again I really would like to know from the Governor and every adult sitting in this room, “how Student 3 myself should have behaved in that unintentional unplanned accidental Two to Three minutes encounter with Mike and Joshua or for that matter how any 12 year old is supposed to behave in such a situation?

Since November 17 I am scared to go to school and I could not sleep at night Just because I am a Hindu and I am different than the majority Jews and Christians of my town; I can be accused of things which I may not have committed. I am not an adult and do not understand legal matters. My humble request to the Governor is please protect my rights for being a Hindu. Please ensure Racial Equality and Equal Rights for me in my School. Further I request the Governor to ensure that no Michael Plias can force a Surya from Hindu community to write contrary to what actually happened. No Michael Plias should be able to shield a Mike accused of wrong doing just because Mike happens to be a Jew or Christian. Mr. Michael Plias has damaged my self esteem and shattered my trust in my School where every one is supposed to be equal. Thank you for listening to me Sir.

This is for the Media please stop discriminating me for being a Hindu. I respect and honor that America is a Christian nation but at the same time it is a Jewish nation, a Muslim nation, a Hindu nation and a nation of non believers also. Thank You.

Sumit Gandhi Grade 7TH  FMG Middle School  Springfield, NJ 07081

Hand written letter sent to Governor/Chief Minister Chris Christie by Sumit Gandhi on Dec. 8, 2011
(REPROUCTION) (names of students have been changed)

Dear Governor Christie,
I know that you are a very busy man, but I only have two questions for you. Mike told Joshua that he will be going home on a special bus. Then Mike said, “Right Surya” All I said was yeah there is. If what Mike said was just wrong comment; then how is my comment bullying? According to my Supervisor Mr. Plias it is and forced me to write that I have done bullying. Why didn’t he ever tell Mike that his comment is more than Bullying? I am also very disturbed that Mr. Plias forced me to write that I did this to be funny and cool. The day this incident happened I did not have any time to even think about what happened, how it happened, and what will be the consequences. It never occurred to me that I said yeah there is to be funny and cool. Why didn’t Mr. Plias make Mike write all this, what he forced me to write? He only made Mike write that he was goofing off and after talking to Mr. Plias he realized what he said was a wrong comment. Why did Mr. Plias force me to write things which he knew that he is going to use against me only? Was it because I’m not Christian or Jewish and Mike is? Is it because of my race, religion and skin color? What Mr. Plias did, crushed the trust between a student and a supervisor. Thank you very much and I hope I can meet you and discuss this incident with you.
My cell phone number: xxx-xxx-xxxx
My Home Phone Number: xxx xxx xxxx
My Email Address: xxxxxxxxxxxx@xxxxx.com
Sicerely,
Sumit Gandhi


BIASED REPORTING BY NEW JERSEY MEDIA
“The New Jersey media especially the Jewish media was reprehensible. They were disappointing. It is reprehensible that those kinds of personal and crude attacks could be leveled at someone like this young 12 year old Middle school student who was simply expressing his opinion on a matter of public policy and doing it with a great deal of poise.”

“He was respectful, sincere, and spoke with conviction with Governor Christie. He provided a model of civil discourse,” “And yet, some of those who disagreed with his position – especially the Jewish Media and commentators throughout the blogosphere – responded with behavior that can only be described as misogynistic, vitriolic, and a misrepresentation of the position of this student on the issue of racial equality and changes in the existing Anti-Bullying Laws.”
North American News Line The Indian EXPRESS
PAGE 11 AND 13
Harvard, Princeton face racial bias charges, similar situation prevails in schools
12-year-old boy in a New Jersey school reignites debate on discrimination
 
Springfield Student Demands Gov. Christie to Change Bullying Law

The U.S. Education Department is probing complaints that Harvard University and Princeton University discriminate against Asian-Americans in undergraduate admissions.

Boy says he was accused of bullying a Jewish student because he was Hindu.
Springfield Patch

Harassment, Intimidation, Bullying Definition from NJSA: 18A:37-14:
"Harassment, intimidation or bullying" means any gesture, any written, verbal or physical act, or any electronic communication, whether it be a single incident or a series of incidents, that is reasonably perceived as being motivated either by any actual or perceived characteristic, such as race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, or a mental, physical or sensory disability, or by any other distinguishing characteristic, that takes place on school property, at any school-sponsored function, on a school bus, or off school grounds as provided for in section 16 of P.L.2010, c.122 (C.18A:37-15.3), that substantially disrupts or interferes with the orderly operation of the school or the rights of other students and that:
(A)   a reasonable person should know, under the circumstances, will have the effect of physically or emotionally harming a student or damaging the student's property, or placing a student in reasonable fear of physical or emotional harm to his person or damage to his property;
(B)     has the effect of  insulting or demeaning any student or group of students; or
(C)    creates a hostile educational environment for the student by interfering with a student's education or by severely or pervasively causing physical or emotional harm to the student.

L.2002, c.83, s.2; amended 2007, c.129, s.1; 2010, c.122, s.11.

FOR MORE INFO ON HIB POLICY
The Springfield Anti-Bullying Policy Is Subject to Constitutional Challenges On the Grounds of Overbroad & Vague Statutory Language Attorney Lennox Hinds

Federal constitutional law provides that a regulation is unconstitutionally vague, and thus a violation of due process, if it does not give fair notice of the regulation's reach and requires students to guess as to the contours of its proscriptions. Although a school has a certain degree of flexibility in its disciplinary procedures, its regulations may still be found to be unconstitutionally vague or overbroad.  The most common reason for a court to sustain a vague or overbroad challenge of a school policy is when specific terms within the policy are not defined. Specificity of terms is especially important when the policy’s regulations are content-based regulation of speech. 

A plain review of the New Jersey’s anti-bullying law and the Springfield School District’s anti-bullying policy shows that they are susceptible to overbroad and vagueness constitutional challenges. For example, the Policy’s prohibition against harassment, intimidation, and bullying applying to “any gesture, any written, verbal or physical act, or any electronic communication” “that has the effect of insulting or demeaning any pupil or group of pupils” can easily be construed as unconstitutionally vague and overbroad because it seeks to regulate public school students and officials speech and behavior without compass or guidance as to the parameters of the policy. The constitutional prohibitions against vague and overbroad statutory regulations apply to Surya’s case and the FMG policy at issue.

Revise HIB/Bullying Policy to Governor, Senate, Assembly for under 15 yrs old request made on December 15, 2011

Via Facsimile, E-Mail & Regular Mail
REVISED (originally from 5 to 7 demands)
Honorable Gov. Chris Christie, Senator Sweeney and Assemblywoman Sheila Oliver:
I request the Legislatures of New Jersey that: 
1.     There must be age appropriate changes to the HIB policy that has been enforced without due consideration of its repercussions in Elementary and Middle Schools especially to stop its misuse against minorities.
2.     All students must be given age appropriate training about the state HIB/Bullying policy in detail at the start of  every academic year. The training must include consequences of HIB policy violations and expected behavior from each student of that particular Grade.
3.     Every Child must have Miranda Rights that they can not be interrogated in the absence of their parent or attorneys.
4.     The parent must be informed of the incident in writing by Courier as well as other means of communication. Let it be mandatory that the parent of the accused student must contact in person with in 3 School Days of the incident.
5.     The School authorities must wait for the response of the parent of the involved student in person before interrogating or asking any thing to that Student.
6.     The parent must be provided with the preliminary investigation report before it is presented to the Board of Education.
7.     The Confidential Board Meeting must be recorded.

PARENTS CAN USE THIS FORMAT TO WRITE TO NJ SENATE, ASSEMBLY & GOVERNOR TO REQUEST CHANGES IN HIB/BULLYING POLICY
From: Name of the Parent <their e-mail & contact>
To: Gov Chris Christie <officeofthegovernor@gov.state.nj.us>; Senate President Senator Sweeney <SenSweeney@njleg.org>; Speaker of New Jersey Assembly <aswoliver@njleg.org>; Office of Constituent Relations <constituent.relations@gov.state.nj.us>; Director Office of Constituent Relations Jeanne Ashmore <jeanne.ashmore@gov.state.nj.us>
Subject: Revise HIB/Bullying Policy
Dear Sir/Madam,
Based on my recent experience, I have come to realize that current HIB policy leaves a lot to be desired. Its implementation on county level is adhoc at best. The recent incident in FMG Middle School , Springfield , NJ is an eye opener. It has been widely covered since the issue was raised by the 12 year old student with Governor Christie at the Spostwood Town Hall Meeting.

I strongly support changes in the HIB policy to ensure that rights of everyone are protected including the Students involved and the School Board. The current process has a lot of holes and I am afraid that it creates more problems than what it solves.
I request the Legislatures of New Jersey that:
ATTACH THE 7 DEMANDS FROM THE TOP
Sincerely,
Name:
Sumit Gandhi is a merit Honor Roll student since Grade 1 with no incident of insubordination, disrespect to any one or involved in any kind of bad things till this October 15 fabricated incident. October 27, 2011 was his first ever detention for some thing he has not done in 8 years of his student life at Springfield Schools. He is a very quiet kid and has become more quiet and become very disturbed and now he wakes up in the middle of the night. His self esteem has been badly damaged by his Supervisor Michael Plias. He is emotionally and mentally very disturbed and looking for answers why Mr. Plias has treated him differently than Mike who initiated the incident and made the actual comment. He is afraid to go to school that Mr. Plias can do more harm to him.  

Board's Investigation Report for Oct. 15 alleged Bullying incident

CONFIDENTIAL (Actual reproduction from the original)
names of the students has been changed
Springfield Public Schools
Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying (HIB) Parent Form

This report is to be provided to the parent/guardian within 5 days after the results of a bullying investigation as reported to the Board of Education. (The Parents of Sumit received it in 9 Days) 

Board of Education Meeting: 11/7/11
Dates(s) of Alleged Incident(s): October 15, 2011
School: FMG 0015

Summary of Allegation(s):
Parent of Joshua alleged that Mike and Sumit were within inches of Student 1’s ear clapping and saying “Hey, Joshua”. Later, when Student 1 asked to go home the same boys told him that he couldn’t go home on the bus with them; he would have to wait for a special bus that would take him home at midnight.

Factual Findings of Anti-Bullying Specialist:
As defined by the new “Anti-Bullying Law”, this incident did escalate to Bullying.
According to Mike and Sumit they are both members of FMG band with Joshua. The FMG band was participating with JDHS band on October 15 th, when the JDHS football team was playing at Union High School. The three boys were participating. Mike and Sumit admitted that they made an inappropriate comment to Joshua indicating that he would be returning “later” than the other FMG band members. Sumit admitted that he went along with the comment because he thought it was “funny and cool”. When he realized that he was bullying, he stopped, moved away, and joined his other friends. Mike admitted that he was “goofing off” when he made the comment to Joshua; he realized after speaking with Mr. Plias that what he said was wrong.

Was there a finding that harassment, intimidation, or bullying took place?  YES
Were any services and/or interventions provided to any individuals involved in the incident(s)?  YES

Describe all services and/or interventions provided to any individuals involved in the incident(s):
Disciplinary action was taken for both Students 2 and Student 3 for the comments they made to Student 1 at the football game at Union High School on Saturday, October 15, 2011 . Mr. Plias has reminded both boys of the importance of being emphatic to others and the harm or hurt that results from inappropriate comments and/or words.
Superintendent Signature: Michael A Davino Date: 11/8/11

On Nov. 17, 2011 Father of Sumit received this certified latter dated Nov. 8, 2011 which is in violation of HIB Rule report is to be provided to the parent/guardian within 5 days after the results of a bullying investigation as reported to the Board of Education (Nov.7, 2011).

Sumit was deprived of his constitutional right to Due Process

Evidence of Mr. Plias’ intense interrogation, premature conclusions of law, and fear imposed upon Sumit are conspicuously evident in Sumit’s written statement. Take for example, Sumit’s statement “I didn’t realize that this was bullying so when I did I stopped and just left and went to my other friend.” 

This statement at minimum invites suspicion. To believe that Sumit, a 12 year old child, voluntarily, knowingly and willfully violated the school anti-bulling policy and New Jersey anti-bullying law, by uttering a single remark to his musical band colleague at a high school football, and subsequently within seconds of time to instantly return to his law abiding senses, and fully withdraw from further commitment of unlawful act by “joining his other friends” is a self-incriminating recounting of facts that defies common sense and credibility.

Most importantly the students, especially minors, should be informed of her/his rights to admit or deny the charges, and see his/her parents, before ever submitting documentation by school administrators wherein the student by force or fear of sanction admits to violating school policies authorized by governing state laws that could invoke severe sanctions upon the students.

Based on the forgoing, it is evident that FMG and the Springfield BOE significantly deprived Sumit of his constitutional right to Due Process. Sumit was forced to produce incriminating evidence, at the outset of a concealed investigation, without provision for presenting his side of the case. His academic record is wrongfully blemished for acts that were not even his own, and remains subject to future harm as a result of these recorded school code of conduct violations on his academic record.

Sumit’s reply to Boards Report of Bullying of Nov. 07 Given to BOARD on Dec. 5, 2011

After carefully reading the letter from the Board my reply to : 
Complaint by Parent of Student 1
  1. “ Parent of Joshua alleged that Mike and Sumit were within inches of student 1’s ear clapping and saying “hey Joshua” is a lie I never yelled or clapped or said the name of  Student 1. It was Student 2 who called the name of Student 1. More over we were standing in a kind of a semi circle I was on the right side of Student 2 and Student 1 was on his left side. I was holding my Saxophone, Student 2 was holding his Saxophone and Student 1 was holding his Sticks so no one was within inches of any one’s ear. Then we were surrounded by other students also and some parents were sitting on the bleachers.
  2. “Later when Joshua asked to go home the same boys told him he couldn’t go home on the bus with them; he would have to wait for a special bus that would take him home at midnight.” Again it’s a lie I don’t know about this conversation.  I am hearing this for the first time unnecessarily my name is being dragged for this comment. I am not at all aware if Joshua and Mike had this conversation. 
Factual Findings of Anti-Bullying Specialist: 
  1. “He would be on a “different/special” bus that would be returning “later” than the other FMG band members” There is an addition of extra words by Joshua or may be by his parent or some one else. In my presence the word Different, Returning and FMG band members were not used.
  2. “Sumit admitted that he went along with the comment because he thought it was funny and cool”. I never admitted to this, the words “funny and cool” Mr. Plias forced me to write on the incident report form on Oct. 19, 2011. I never said these words so the question of my admitting that comment by Mike was funny and cool does not arise. The only thing I told Mr. Plias was that it was just a joke by Mike.  
  3. “when he (Sumit) realized he was bullying, he stopped, moved away and joined his other friends”. This is a complete lie. No such realization came to my mind on Oct. 15. There was no time for me to realize any thing after saying “Yeah there is” because I immediately walked away from Student 1 and Student 2 to join my Band.  It was Mr. Plias who told me on Oct. 19 that “Yeah there is” spoken by me is bullying. Till to date I am confused how this is bullying. Mr. Plias told me I have done bullying. He forced me to write in the Incident Report Form that I have done bullying and after realizing I stopped and walked away. It is his own interpretation of my word “Yeah there is” to frame me for bullying. The fact is I left the scene immediately after saying “Yeah there is” to the statement of Mike that there was a special Bus taking Joshua Home later”.
Sumit’s Statement to Mr. Plias on 10-19-11
I was sitting in my class for 8th period when my teacher Mrs. Leonard got a call around 1.40 PM that Mr. Plias wants to see me in his office.   Initially I waited in the office of Mr. Plias. Finally I met him he asked me what happened on Saturday with Joshua tell me the story. I told Mr. Plias that I was standing with Joshua and Mike on the side lines waiting to go on the field to play. Mike called Joshua's name and said there was a special Bus taking Joshua home later. Then he said “Right Sumit” I said “Yeah there is” and I walked away from them to join my band. 

Then Mr. Plais said you know that’s bullying why did you do it?  Then I said it was just a joke by Mike. Then Mr. Plias said first of all it was bullying and more over when you are joking you are trying to be cool or funny. Then he opened the door and gave me an Incident Report Form and told me go and sit out side and write when it happened, where it happened and what happened. Further Mr. Plias told me that I must include that I stopped when I realize it is bullying and I think Mike made the comments to be  funny and I was also trying to be funny and cool.

Under Fear of Mr. Plias I wrote in the Incident Report Form what he told me to write:
I am a member of the Band and so is Joshua. On Oct. 15 at Union High School for Dayton’s football game Mike said that there was a special Bus taking Joshua Home later and I just said "yeah there is" going on with what Mike said. At first I did not realize that this was bullying so when I did I stopped and just left and went to my other friends. I think Student 2 made these comments just to be funny. I went along with it because I thought it would be funny and cool. Mr. Plias or some one else has put quotation mark on the word “cool” I never put those quotation marks on the original Incident Report Form. 

Joshua & Mike are not my close friends, I do not socialize with them at all even on Oct. 15th when this incident happened I stayed with them 2-3 minutes only. With Joshua I only have Spanish class in common and with Mike I have Band & Spanish as common classes.

Sumit Gandhi
FMG School Springfield
(Grade 7th )  Dec. 5, 2011
Read the statement in the Confidential Hearing & provided the copy to the Board Attorney.

STATEMENT OF SUMIT''S MOTHER

    
1.      I was never contacted on October 17 or 19 and neither I have ever exchanged any e-mails  on this matter as misrepresented by Counsel Lord & Mr. Plias. Mr. Plias has claimed he spoke to me on both occasions on December 5, confidential Hearing is a big lie.
2.      First time I spoke to  Mr. Plias when he called me on Oct. 24, 2011 around 11-11:30 AM on my cell phone and started talking about the incident of October 15, 2011 . He told me that Mike told Joshua that he would have to go on a special bus later. Then he said that when Mike asked Sumit (my son) if Joshua will go on a special bus, Sumit said yes. Then Mr. Plias started explaining how this is bullying. I interrupted him and said this is unbelievable, what my son said is not bullying. I told him that Sumit would never bully anyone and that he is very quiet and sweet. I told him that even all the teachers in the school tell me that Sumit is a great kid; he is quiet, calm, sweet, and nice to everyone. When I said all of this, Mr. Plias told me in an intimidating and threatening tone that he can take this matter to the School Board. Then I became quiet and let him finish what he has to say. Then he retold me about the incident and said I cannot tell you the names of other Students. I cut him off and said did I ask you for the Student’s name?  In the end Mr. Plias said he is very happy Sumit has told him the truth. He will not take this matter to the School Board from his side the case is closed, Sumit will get one day detention only.  Then I asked if I can meet him and talk about this, but the time and date he was giving me were not convenient for me. Then I just said that since he’s not taking this matter to the School Board, it won’t be very important to meet him right now and I will meet him some other time.
3.      On October 24, 2011 Mr. Plias never told me that he has taken any written from my son Sumit on Oct. 19, 2011.
4.      In the evening of October 24 I did talk to my son and he narrated the whole incident and told me he only said “Yeah there is” to the comment made by Mike that “there was a special Bus taking Student 1 home later.” After saying “Yeah there is” he immediately walked away from there to join his Band. Then he asked me do I think “Yeah there is” spoken by him is bullying? I told him I don’t want to get into any discussion and I am very upset this is the first time in 8 years some one has complained in the school for his behavior and his father is going to be very upset. That day Sumit never told me that Mr. Plias has taken a written statement from him and has changed his side of the story.
5.      On November 17, 2011 I came to know from my husband that the above incident was referred to the School Board and our son has admitted that when he realized this was bullying he stopped and left to join his other friends. It took us almost 2 days to know that the written statement made by our son Sumit on Oct. 19  was dictated by Mr. Plias under intimidation and creating fear in his mind.
Mother of Sumit

Statement of Plias to Board on December 5, 2011

Statement of Mr Plias at Dec 5 Board Hearing (No official recording notes taken by a family friend & Sumit's sister)
1.  Band Teacher Mr. Laura sent him (Supervisor Plias) an email, he immediately sent it to Principle Keilty telling him about the incident that occurred at the football game (someone else told Laura and it was his duty to tell Plias and Keilty about what happened at the game).
2.  Email said the incident allegedly involved 2 boys harassing a boy.
3.  Bonnie Loew & Virginia Olive FMG Anti-Bullying Specialists were made in charge of investigating the case on Oct. 17, 2011.
4.  Virginia Olive was asked to spearhead the investigations.
5.  Plias contacted all the parents of the kids involved in the incident on October 17th
6.  Full investigation started on October 19th, Virginia Olive was absent so Bonnie Loew took over (Principle Keilty appointed Loew)
7.  Sumit admitted that there was wrong doing and admitted to bullying on Oct. 19
8.  I (Plias) sent a series of emails to all the parents involved and kept them updated on what was happening throughout the whole thing.
9.  I (Plias) spoke to Mother of Sumit on October 17 then on  19 after that there are series of e-mails exchanged back and forth with her and I spoke to her again on October 24, 2011. I explained her every thing that Sumit will be given 1 Day Detention and counseling.
10.  Letter of detention was sent on October 26th and Mother signed the same.
11.  Sumit brought the signed letter and gave it to Plias
12.  On Oct. 27th Sumit served the Detention and he was given counseling.

Sumit was never given any counseling as claimed by Mr. Plias.
Plias never spoke to Mother of Sumit on October 17 or 19 over the phone and never sent any e-mail on her official e-mail address since 1999 ........111@yahoo.com and the same is in School Records. She has never exchanged any e-mails with Mr. Plias on this matter. Mr. Plias never called Sumit's Father's cell or  home or work phone to inform him of the incident. The only time he called Sumit's Mother was October 24 on her cell phone & his Father on his cell phone on Nov. 22, 2011.

Bullying Specialist Virginia Olive or Bonnie Loew and Principle Kielty never asked Sumit any thing about the incident and never met him alone in person or in the presence of some one else to discuss the incident of October 15, 2011.

It was only Mr. Plias who alone illegally interogated Surya about the incident on October 19 and no one else was present in his room. That day Plias intimidated, bullied and terrorized Surya to include his suggestions of "funny and cool" and "when I realized it is bullying I walked away to join my other friends" on the Incident Report Form.

On October 26 Plias called Sumit along with Mike and 5-6 more students of Grade 7 who were supposed to get Detention and handed them a letter to be signed by there parents. On Oct. 27 the day Sumit got detention there were around 20-24 students serving detention from 6th, 7th and 8th Grades.

15min Dec 5 Board Hearing Insult to Parent & Democratic values

Dear Sir/Madam, Please be advised that Dec. 5 hearing was a big fraud and actual hearing was for less than 15 minutes with pretending to be DEAD emotionless and expressionless Board members and Unionized FMG Principle, FMG Supervisor Mr. Michael Plias, Superintendent Michael Davino, Board Secretary Mathew Clarke all white from Rulers community or preferred community and Attorney Lord representing a big Law Firm of Poritz etc, from Rulers community.

They refused to answer any question including the one by their own student Sumit Gandhi:
“With due respect to all the Board Members, I have a question for each member. Mike said there will be a special bus taking Joshua home later and asked “Right Sumit (my first name)”. All I said was “Yeah there is” and I want you to tell me if this was bullying? Please answer with your yes or no only.

No one from the pretending to be dead racially biased individuals showed any emotions to a child and treated him like dirt simply because he is not from the majority Ruler’s or preferred community of Springfield.

The father of Sumit did intervene to ask them to reply to the question of their student but Attorney Lord said they will not answer rather than pretending to be dead Board Members saying any thing.

Then the Father told her it should be part of the record that they have refused to answer this question.

Fortunately by mistake they allowed two witness Mr. Ram Aggarwal and 16 years old sister of Sumit to attend the meeting and they took some notes as well as the Sister drew some faces also with their expression of contempt and racial apathy when Sumit and his father read out their written statements.

Guest Ram Aggarwal wanted to ask them 1 question even that was refused by Attorney Lord and Board President.

Please note since there was no translator Father read the statement of  Sumit's Mother also.

The biggest fraud, the Father came to know on December 6, 2011 when he called the Board for the Transcript of the meeting; that they have not recorded the meeting. This is a fraud by Attorney Lord/Board to save the unionized Board members and Educators from being exposed how they behaved in Sham Confidential Hearings worse then Dictators of rouge countries.

On December 7, 2011 at 1.20 PM the parents received a fax that all white unionized Board Members have unanimously determined that the finding of HIB and the discipline and services were appropriate and correct.

Mr. Ram Aggarwal & Sister of Sumit are willing to go on camera to describe how the Board members have acted in this Hearing.

FMG VIOLATED CONSTITUTIONAL & CIVIL RIGHTS OF SUMIT GANDHI

I. Undisputed Facts by Attorney Lennox Hinds

Synthesizing the parties’ accounting of the events, the undisputed facts are that on October 19, 2011, Mr. Plias, summoned Sumit to discuss an alleged bullying incident that occurred on October 15, 2011.  During this time Mr. Plias required Sumit to submit a written statement wherein he recounted his recollection of the facts.   It is also undisputed that Mr. Plias directed and/or encouraged Sumit to admit in writing that he knowingly violated the school anti-bullying policy and New Jersey Anti-Bullying law without first consulting his parents or ensuring that one of them was present in the room. It is also uncontested that neither Mr. Plias nor the school designated Anti-Bullying Specialist ever informed Sumit, at the time of completing his statement, how his statement could be used against him in an investigation by the school Anti-Bullying Specialist in future administrative hearings before the Board of Education, and the Superintendent of Springfield Public schools. Sumit was also never provided a charging instrument that indicates the charges to be filed against him, and his available course of remedies at the time of completing his written statement. Surya was also neither provided a list of witnesses, nor their statements indicating the persons who Mr. Plias and the Anti-Bullying Specialist consulted or intended to consult during their investigation of the October 15, 2011 incident. Mr. Plias was not present at the incident in question, and that his understanding of events was supplied by communications by Mike and Joshua and their parents and other witnesses unknown to Sumit or his parents. The parties also do not dispute that Sumit is a minor and that he grew fearful of Mr. Plias during his October 19, 2011 meeting.  Sumit was ultimately required to serve his first after-school detention on October 27, 2011 as punishment for the purported school violation, several days before the BOE reached a decision confirming the findings of the bullying investigation and appropriateness of punishment for the alleged school policy violation.  The subject incident remains on Sumit’s academic record.

II.  Due Process Concerns Arising Under FMG’s Enforcement of New Jersey’s Anti-Bullying Law

It is well settled under New Jersey and US constitutional laws that with respect to the disciplining of students in public educational institutions involving the possible imposition of sanctions such as suspension or expulsion, the requirements of procedural due process under the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution must be enforced. R.R. v. Board of Ed. Of Shore Regional High School Dist. 109 N.J. Super. 337, 346-347 (1970). Springfield School District’s Anti-Bullying Policy is authorized by New Jersey’s recently enacted “Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights Act” (C.18A:37-13 et seq.).  Students at FMG who are accused of violating the school anti-bullying policy also must be afforded Due Process because the anti-bullying policy invokes suspension and expulsion as punitive sanctions, and because FMG is a public middle school.

The constitutional guarantee of Due Process derives from federal law and is not diminished by the fact that a state may have specified its own procedures that it may deem adequate for determining the preconditions to adverse official action. Layton v. Beyer, 953 F.2d 839, 849-850 (3d Cir.1992). Accordingly, due process requires that deprivation of life, liberty, or property by adjudication be preceded by notice and opportunity for a hearing appropriate to the nature of the case. Armstrong v. Manzo, 380 U.S. 545, 550 (1965). The opportunity to be heard must be granted at a “meaningful time and in a meaningful manner.” Id at 552.

Within public schools, Due Process requires that students at a minimum be provided a fair and adequate notice of chargers concerning violation of school policy that could invoke suspension or expulsion sanctions. Goss v. Lopez, 419 U.S.565, 574-575 (1975).  Notice to the student and his or her parents should contain a specific statement of the specific charges and grounds supporting the charges. The charge of misconduct, shaped by a witnesses’ viewpoint should be substantiated by a balanced and objective collection of facts concerning the charged misconduct. The student alleged of violating the policy should be given the names of the witnesses against him and an oral or written report reflecting the facts to which each witness testifies.  Accused students should also be given the opportunity to present to the Board of Education, or at least to some leading administrative official, his own defense against the charges and to produce either oral testimony or written affidavits of witnesses in his behalf to rebut the charges against him and cross-examine witnesses. Expulsion of E.J.W. from Independent School Dist. No. 500 632 N.W.2d 775 at 781-782 (Minn. Ct. App. 2001).

Most importantly the students, especially minors, should be informed of her/his rights to admit or deny the charges, and see his/her parents, before ever submitting documentation by school administrators wherein the student by force or fear of sanction admits to violating school policies authorized by governing state laws that could invoke severe sanctions upon the students.

III.  Due Process Violations Sumit Gandhi Sustained

The Gandhi family, like many anti-bullying activists, support and commend the New Jersey’s legislature’s initiatives taken to curtail instances of harassment, intimidation and bullying that arise within public schools.  However, as you are aware, the protection of procedural Due Process is a U.S. citizen’s constitutional right.  Thus, New Jersey School Districts’ objective to eliminate instances of bullying must be balanced between the public school officials’ desire to maintain a safe and thriving learning environment with the students’ constitutional rights.

In this case, the undisputed facts show that Sumit was deprived of basic Due Process safeguards deeply embedded in New Jersey and federal law. The circumstances leading to deprivation of his Due Process rights are easily replicable so long as the Springfield School District’s Anti-Bullying Policy remains in its current form.  In Sumit’s case, the most egregious exemplars of Due Process violations are set forth below with no particular order of priority:

§         Mr. Plias’ the Anti-Bullying Specialist and the Principal’s decision on October 19, 2011 to interrogate as well as prematurely and unilaterally conclude that Surya violated the school anti-bullying policy and New Jersey Anti-Bullying Law;

§         Mr. Plias’ forcing of Sumit, a minor, to produce a writing admitting he violated school policy and New Jersey law without his parents present at the inception of when the charges were alleged against him[1];

§         Mr. Plias, the Anti-Bullying Specialist and the Principal’s failure during the course of the investigation, to distinguish with particularity the words and remarks of Joshua, Mike and Sumit on the Factual Findings reported to the Springfield BOE, thus leaving significant ambiguity as to the underlying acts per student that violated the school anti-bullying policy.

§          Mr. Plias, the Anti-Bullying Specialist and the FMG Principal’s failure to supply Surya with a charging instrument at the time he requested Surya to complete a statement.

§         Mr. Plias, the Anti-Bullying Specialist and the FMG Principal’s failure to inform Surya or his Parents at the time of completing his statement, how his statement would be used against him in subsequent investigation and adjudication of the anti-bullying charges against him by the Anti-Bullying Specialist, the FMG Principal, and the Springfield School District Superintendent. [2]

§         Mr. Plias, the Anti-Bullying Specialist and the FMG Principal’s failure to inform or supply Sumit at the time of completing his statement, or sometime soon after, a witnesses list and/or statements of persons questioned about the subject incident which led to Sumit’s incrimination.

§         FMG’s decision to punish Surya on October 27, 2011 before the School BOE convened to review the Findings of the FMG investigation and before Sumit had opportunity to present his side of the case in a meaningful way.


[1] The case record demonstrates in multiple instances that Sumit’s admission served as a compelling factor that incited his disciplinary sanction In fact, the November 8, 2011, Board of Education Meeting Report, Mr. Plias statements at the Dec 5 Board of Education Hearing, and the Anti-Bullying Specialist’s Factual Findings all cite Sumit’s “admission,” as basis to conclude that the acts in question constituted bullying.
[1] Notably, the Springfield Board of Education did not require that Mr. Plias himself produce a written statement during its review of the incident as it was not required under NJ Anti-Bullying Law that the Board’s witnesses prepare a written statement for a parent requested hearing.
§         Springfield BOE’s failure to provide Sumit or his parents, prior to the December 5, 2011 Hearing of any written statements to be introduced or relied upon as evidence at the Hearing.

§         The Springfield BOE’s failure to permit Sumit to question or cross-examine any witness relied upon during the investigation of the subject incident at the December 5, 2011 Hearing.

§         FMG’s failure to provide anti-bullying training to seventh grade students and inform them of the consequences associated with violating the school policy prior to the October 15, 2011 incident.

§         Mr. Plias, interrogation of Sumit, coercion of statements, and racial animus directed at Surya irrespective of Surya’s displays of fear during the October 19, 2011 interrogation[3];

Based on the forgoing, it is evident that FMG and the Springfield BOE significantly deprived Sumit of his constitutional right to Due Process. Surya was forced to produce incriminating evidence, at the outset of a concealed investigation, without provision for presenting his side of the case. His academic record is wrongfully blemished for acts that were not even his own, and remains subject to future harm as a result of these recorded school code of conduct violations on his academic record.

Sumit’s experiences at FMG were not merely caused by an amalgamation of procedural mishaps undertaken by school officials.  Rather, the case reflects salient constitutional defects in the New Jersey Anti-Bullying Law and Springfield School District’s anti-bullying policy.  The source of the problem lies in the fact there are no factors or guidelines contained in the policy and New Jersey Anti-Bullying law governing how investigations should proceed or setting forth the procedural safeguards that must be implemented to ensure the students’ due process rights are protected. Instead, the school anti-bullying policy merely authorizes the Principal of each school, in conjunction with the Anti-Bullying Specialist, "to define the range of ways in which school staff will respond once an incident of harassment, intimidation, or bullying is confirmed" along with other "additional personnel appointed by the principal." Springfield HIB Policy § H.

[1] Evidence of Mr. Plias’ intense interrogation, premature conclusions of law, and fear imposed upon Sumit are conspicuously evident in Sumit’s written statement. Take for example, Sumit’s statement “I didn’t realize that this was bullying so when I did I stopped and just left and went to my other friend.” (Exhibit 5 Sumit Gandhi’s Written Statement Produced Before Mr. Plias). This statement at minimum invites suspicion. To believe that Sumit, a 12 year old child, voluntarily, knowingly and willfully violated the school anti-bulling policy and New Jersey anti-bullying law, by uttering a single remark to his musical band colleague at a high school football, and subsequently within seconds of time to instantly return to his law abiding senses, and fully withdraw from further commitment of unlawful act by “joining his other friends” is a self-incriminating recounting of facts that defies common sense and credibility.

Furthermore, the NJ Department of Education in (Union County Office) December 22, 2011 letter to Mr. Mohan Gandhi, denying Mr. Gandhi's claims that FMG’s investigation of the October 15, 2011 incident was racially biased and that Mr. Plias intimidated Sumit into producing a written statement that is contrary to what occurred on the day in question is also unavailing. It is commonplace in the law that evidence of bias and prejudice, are unveiled by the accused’s right and opportunity to challenge witness statements and cross-examine witnesses, as opposed to concealed internal investigations conducted by similarly situated parties.  However, Sumit was never provided these options.  Accordingly, substantive changes to the Springfield’s anti-bullying policy and New Jersey’s Anti-Bullying Law are necessary to ensure protection of students' constitutional rights.
IV.  Accused Violators of FMG Anti-Bullying Policy Should Be Provided Maximum Due Process Protection

To suggest that Sumit need not have been accorded Due Process protection in this particular case because he was not subjected to suspension or expulsion is of no moment. This argument assumes the implausible stance that a New Jersey public school may fully abrogate a student’s Due Process rights during investigations and adjudication of school code of conduct violations so long as suspension or expulsion, though a contemplated sanction, is not actually imposed. Furthermore, violations of school anti-bullying policies should require heightened procedural safeguards, (more so than conventional code of conduct violations) because the accused is subject to both punitive sanctions by school officials and tort civil lawsuits initiated by the purported victims. Hence, Sumit Gandhi's forced statement made at the direction of Mr. Plias unfairly exposes and prejudices Sumit to severe school sanctions imposed under school administrative proceedings and a court of law.

V.  The Springfield Anti-Bullying Policy Is Subject to Constitutional Challenges On the Grounds of Overbroad & Vague Statutory Language

Federal constitutional law provides that a regulation is unconstitutionally vague, and thus a violation of due process, if it does not give fair notice of the regulation's reach and requires students to guess as to the contours of its proscriptions. Although a school has a certain degree of flexibility in its disciplinary procedures, its regulations may still be found to be unconstitutionally vague or overbroad.  The most common reason for a court to sustain a vague or overbroad challenge of a school policy is when specific terms within the policy are not defined. Specificity of terms is especially important when the policy’s regulations are content-based regulation of speech. 

A plain review of the New Jersey’s anti-bullying law and the Springfield School District’s anti-bullying policy shows that they are susceptible to overbroad and vagueness constitutional challenges. For example, the Policy’s prohibition against harassment, intimidation, and bullying applying to “any gesture, any written, verbal or physical act, or any electronic communication” “that has the effect of insulting or demeaning any pupil or group of pupils” can easily be construed as unconstitutionally vague and overbroad because it seeks to regulate public school students and officials speech and behavior without compass or guidance as to the parameters of the policy. Springfield HIB Policy § B. The constitutional prohibitions against vague and overbroad statutory regulations apply to Sumit’s case and the FMG policy at issue.  However we decline to further fully address this issue at this time but nonetheless raise the issue for your consideration.

VI.  Request For Remedy to NJ Senate President, Assembly Speaker & Governor of New Jersey (Feb. 17, 2012

The Gandhi family and counsel request an opportunity to comment and participate in public hearings designated for review, evaluation, and strengthening of the New Jersey Anti-Bullying Law.  Our research shows that similar civil rights activists groups have identified similar constitutional deficiencies in the statute raised in this letter and are poised to contribute to the dialogue.  The Gandhi family is uniquely situated to testify about the detrimental effects of New Jersey’s Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights that does not adequately protect the constitutional rights of public students and are well positioned to assist your office with proper strengthening and restoration of the Act.