Government Maplewood

Maplewood Looks to Craft Parental Notification Policy After Police Visit Kids Camp

Maplewood Township is looking to create a policy regarding parental notification for third party visitors to children’s recreation activities after the Maplewood Police were invited unannounced to Kids Camp earlier this summer.

“Due to it being scheduled after the newsletter going out, that visit was not noticed as a scheduled event,” reported Township Committee member — and Recreation Department liaison — Greg Lembrich at the August 7 Township Committee meeting. “There has been some concern expressed by residents.”

Lembrich continued, “It would be good to have a parental notification policy any time third parties who are not members of the camp are going to be invited in for recreation activities and other youth programming and we could discuss what form that notification would take.” Lembrich said that this could include “opt-out procedures.”

Mayor Vic DeLuca added, “I think it’s fair that we provide notice to parents.” However, DeLuca expressed concern that there could be an “unintended consequence that something comes up and I’d hate to prevent a former CHS [Columbia High School] basketball player or fencer from dropping in on our Rec program and saying hi.”

Nonetheless, DeLuca added, “I understand completely what the issue was here. There is particular sensitivity to the Maplewood Police coming in and I do think we could have done it a little differently.” The mayor suggested that the issue not be handled on the ordinance or resolution level; rather, he suggested that Lembrich meet with Township Administrator Sonia Vivieros and Recreation Director Melissa Mancuso “to work out a procedure. I think parents should know as much as possible what their kids are going to be exposed to but a hard and fast rule could be detrimental.”

Later in the meeting, Heather Joy, a member of Recreation Advisory Committee, commented that she was charged $251.66 for materials related to the police visit to Kids Camp “after township officials would not answer my questions.” Joy told Village Green, “Citizens should not be paying that for transparency.” She also said that many pages that were provided to her were not a propos to her request: “The documents I was provided included a lot of information that never should have been turned over — from children’s and parents’ personal information to employee disputes with one another to a parent request for a special exception due to child care issues. The town needs a new IT firm since this one doesn’t even know how to conduct a basic search. Whomever does the redactions should be fired.”

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