Community Open Letter: BoE Surveillance System

 

The following open letter was submitted by member “PoorRichard” regarding the new surveillance system deployed to Belleville schools by the Board of Education.

As always, we welcome a constructive open dialogue, from both sides, on any issue we raise here on The Watch. Please leave your thoughts and feedback in the comments section below. 

 

It is hard today to watch TV or the Internet and not worry about our children’s safety.  A community has a responsibility to educate and protect its children.  The  Board of Education Trustees  are the people we have trusted  to make sure our school system does just that.

When schools are failing to meet State Standards,  buildings are falling apart, text books and computers are outdated,  we cannot  afford to spend over 2 million dollars on a surveillance system. Our children are going to school not prison. What Belleville Board of Education has put into our schools is a surveillance system not a security system The system has video cameras, cards to access the buildings, and listening devices in each room .  Our children do not have computers  in their class room. They may have one, but that one is of little value when there are up to 30 children in the class.  Many Belleville schools no longer even have a library.

Over the last year, the Belleville Board of Education has authorized and spent over 4 million dollars on a surveillance system and “technology” services.   2 million dollars was spent on the surveillance system.  Over $500,000 was spent for armed guards, while another 1.2 million dollars over the next 5 years was spent on “Technology” Services.  There is very little proof that any of this spending will make our children safer or feel that way. The National Association of School Psychologist (NASP)  actually believe it is just the opposite. These measures make us believe that schools are unsafe and draws attention seekers to a site where they know they are being recorded.   This is unjustified wasteful spending .  In the last year the Board of Education has spent no money on computers or new  technology to  create a better  learning environment  for our children.

Most of the money was spent with a company called Clarity Technologies Group whose CEO is a convicted felon.  Just so we are clear on this, the Board of Education has put the safety of our children and much of our personal information in the hands of a convicted felon.  Every teacher, substitute teacher or school aide has to go through a criminal background check or they cannot step foot  in our schools.  What good is all those background checks  when Clarity Personnel have free run in all our schools and at least one of them  has a criminal record.  Why weren’t  they checked. This company was incorporated for less than 6 months before the Belleville  Board of Education gave them this 2 Million dollar contract.

A lot of money was spent but very little value was received.   Fort Lee, NJ  just put a surveillance system in their schools. It cost them less than $250,000.00. The average person in Fort Lee has an income of about $66,000 per year while Belleville is about $55,000 per year.  Belleville spent almost 10 times the amount Fort Lee spent. We can’t afford to spend $2 million on surveillance and nothing on education. That is totally out of line. We need to spend money on computers and text books to prepare our children for the 21st century.  we recently found out that number #4 and # 7  school got flat screen  TVs and DVDs from the Education Foundation. Nice gesture but “welcome to the 1990’s”. Our students deserve smart boards and laptops. Technology tools that help them prepare for the  21st Century not the century past.

What we have found out recently is that the Board Attorney’s brother and one of the Board Trustee’s sons works for Clarity.

If you have any question in your mind about what is being said here or want to read more, please visit the links below and confirm the  information:

 

If you want to know more:

 

BOE Surveillance System Bid Calendar

April 16, 2013: Belleville Board of Education Budget Rejected  by Residents

April 25, 2013 Belleville Board of Education (BBOE) Advertised Surveillance Bid in  Belleville Times. (Not in the budget)

May 9, 2013:  Bid Closed (bidders given 10 business days to review and prepare bid.)

May 13,  2013, Bid Awarded by resolution after 2 business days for BBOE  review

12 business days from advertising 4/25/2013 to resolution awarding 5/13/2013.

 

Expenditure was not in BOE budget 2013-2014 which residents rejected on  April 16, 2013 or in documents sent to Council for review. However Board Trustee Joe Longo says monies are coming from Operating Budget?

http://belleville.patch.com/groups/schools/p/belleville-school-district-invests-over-2-million-in-security

 

Single Bidder Award to Clarity Technologies Group LLC for $1,948,919.00.

http://www.claritytg.com/

 

Corporate President and COO of Clarity, Bruce Kreeger: Convicted felon

http://www.claritytg.com/team-clarity.html

http://newjerseyhills.com/randolph_reporter/news/article_6f5db247-2dce-5541-ad8f-eb7e59433378.html

 

Company incorporated less than 6 months. Filed incorporation paperwork  1/2013,  Less that $500,000 in annual revenue.

Paste Clarity Technologies Group into the search below

https://www.njportal.com/DOR/BusinessNameSearch/Default.aspx

 

Clarity was not a registered Electrical Contractor in the State of New Jersey at the time of the bid 4/25/2013 or bid award 5/13/2013.

Search :

https://newjersey.mylicense.com/verification/

Search for:  Electrical Contractors

Clarity Technologies Group

Mine Hill

 

Research on School Security : National Association of School Psychologists (NASP)

http://www.nasponline.org/advocacy/schoolsecurity.pdf

 

Ft. Lee’s  Surveillance system cost $234,500.00.

http://www.nj.com/bergen/index.ssf/2014/03/surveillance_cameras_will_soon_watch_over_all_fort_lee_schools.html

 

Board Of Education’s Attorney has a brother who is an employee of Clarity.

http://www.linkedin.com/pub/brian-demeo/1a/418/200

 

Board Trustee Joe Longo’s son works  for Clarity

http://www.northjersey.com/news/belleville-boe-trustee-defends-upgrades-responds-to-claim-about-his-son-1.658865

 

 

 

About Griff 310 Articles
Lee "Griff" Dorry - Founder, watchdog, and public advocate. They've got strings, But you can see, There are no strings on me.

4 Comments

  1. Thank You! (whoever you may be, your work is wonderful!)

    The most comprehensive accumulation of information and insights to the costs, lack of benefit and waste of precious educational dollars I have seen to date!

    This should be read by every resident, parent, educator and general citizen in the State of NJ.

    Heads up folks, this is most probably coming to your town before you know it. Be prepared!

  2. Jeff, thank you so much for your kind words (and your major vote of confidence!). This was a very well written piece by PoorRichard.

    I hope more people come forward with information and bring it to our attention here. Hot, complex topics like this need to get to the people, in a way that’s easy to digest and understand. Just making sense of everything crossing my desk is almost a part-time job in itself.

    There’s never enough time in the day 🙂

    Thanks,
    Griff

  3. This kind of clarity, pardon me, of the serious subjects now being discussed in our community should open the eyes and enrage every citizen. Please, spread the word about the Watch and tell your friends and neighbors that their participation is not only encouraged but necessary and can be absolutely anonymous if that’s what they wish.

    It seems as if the time is right and that some of our town leaders are showing signs of feeling the pressure. They hear the footsteps and are trying to circle the wagons. It’s too late and it’s up to you now, good people, to let them hear your voices and that enough is enough. Their day is over and the fat lady has already started to sing.

  4. With all of the references now being presented as to relatives and close friends (F&F) of those in power being given jobs- whether they have the proper credentials or not, it is becomming more important than ever to uncover the name(s) of those who are orchestrating these appointments.

    Why are the jobs being doled out in this fashion and is there any quid pro quo that needs to be exposed?

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