Two Gregory Elementary School maintenance employees have been suspended and are being investigated after an "incident" with four young students on Thursday morning, March 1.
According to a statement from Long Branch Superintendent of Schools Michael Salvatore, the incident occurred in the boys' bathroom, but details of what occurred were not released by the school. The names of the students, their ages and the names and salaries of the two employees have not been released.
However, The Link News reported on its Facebook page that it had received an e-mail from a parent stating the following:
“Yesterday (March 1) 4 boys under the age of 10 were bound and gagged by the school janitors in the bathroom at the Gregory School Long Branch ... Photos were taken by the janitors ... Long Branch Police and the Monmouth County Prosecutors Office are investigating ...”
Salvatore's e-mail states that "after the reports and the review of our security cameras revealed the possibility that the incident took place, parents were notified, as well as, the proper authorities."
He said cameras are not allowed in bathrooms or locker rooms, but that footage from other school cameras "revealed that the students and staff were in the bathroom at that time."
The Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office, Long Branch Police Department and Institutional Abuse/DYFS are conducting an investigation regarding the allegations, according to Salvatore.
Monmouth County Deputy First Assistant Prosecutor Richard Incremona said no criminal charges had been filed as of Saturday afternoon.
"There was an allegation about children and staff members," Incremona said. "We were contacted by the Long Branch Police and we are investigating."
Salvatore said the employees were sent home immediately after the incident was reported, suspended with pay and summoned to the Long Branch Police Department for testimony.
"Regardless of criminality, as the acts are claimed to be without malice and in jest; we have taken abrupt action as a safeguard to the children," Salvatore said in his statement. "It is the responsibility of all staff to ensure the safety and well-being of every child."
"Any allegations involving reprehensible decisions and actions, regardless of intent, are intolerable and will not be accepted by the Long Branch Board of Education," Salvatore continued.
The timeline of the incident is still under investigation, but Gregory Elementary School Principal Elford Rawls-Dill informed the parents, Salvatore, the Long Branch Police and Institutional Abuse shortly after the incident occurred, according to Salvatore's statement.
Rawls-Dill reportedly conducted student interviews and reviewed the school security cameras before reaching out the parents, Salvatore and authorities.
The Gregory School staff was informed of the incident on Friday morning, March 2.
"(Staff members) were told that if they hear students speaking of incidents similar to this to notify the principal immediately, who will then contact the Long Branch Police Department who is conducting the investigation," Salvatore said.
Salvatore said any information about the incident should be directed to the Long Branch Police Department.