By ED SALVAS
A veteran Asbury Park school employee is recovering from injuries suffered in an altercation with a student at the Martin Luther King Jr. Middle school.
John Venino, a guidance counselor at the school, and school district employee for 25 years, has a black eye and possible head injuries suffered Fri., Oct. 20, in an incident inside the school that involved two MLK students. A video of the altercation made by a student has been circulated on social media, but what led to the incident is not clear.
Two boys, eighth grade students at the school which has classes for grades six to eight, have been taken into custody. A statement from Superintendent Dr. RaShawn Adams was released Monday.
“An altercation between a staff member and a student took place on Friday, and I want to assure you that we take this matter very seriously. The incident is currently under investigation and is a personnel matter so we cannot provide greater detail. Know that we are committed to a thorough and impartial process to determine the facts and take appropriate action.
“The safety and well-being of our students are of utmost importance to us. We hold our staff to the highest standards of conduct and professionalism, and we are deeply committed to ensuring that our schools provide a safe and respectful environment for all. Rest assured that we will not tolerate any behavior that jeopardizes the welfare of our students and our staff.
John Napolitani, president of the Asbury Park Education Association, criticized the district’s lack of security at the Middle School at the time and failure to act on a plan to create an “Alternative School” for students who need special attention because of behavioral problems. He said that the students involved have had “multiple write-ups,” which means they have been in trouble in the past.
Venino was treated for an eye injury and reportedly has been placed on paid leave while the incident remains under investigation. Superintendent Adams said in conclusion, “We understand the community’s desire for transparency and accountability, and we will keep you informed as the investigation progresses. Please know that we are working closely with institutional abuse, law enforcement and appropriate authorities to ensure a fair and just resolution to this matter.”