Man wearing only underwear observed near classroom in Northfield, NJ

We interviewed several parents from Northfield, New Jersey Community School.

They are concerned about an incident that occurred on school property on June 3, 2022, at approximately 12:30 p.m.

Northfield Public Schools Superintendent Pedro P. Bretones described the individual as “a partially dressed adult male in the bushes on Cedarbridge Rd”.

Several parents said the man was dressed in nothing but his underwear and was right next to the window of a classroom at Northfield Community School.

The parents are concerned that Bretones may be vague as to the man’s actual location, so as not to place him as close to the school as they claim.

To date, Bretones has written two emails to parents on June 9, 2022 and a follow-up on June 23, 2022.

The parents we spoke to believe that the emails do not provide a complete and accurate account of what really happened.

Observers at the recent Board of Education meeting described a lack of sense of urgency and lack of empathy for concerned parents, who are deeply troubled by this incident; especially in the current heightened atmosphere in America today regarding violent incidents at school.

I have obtained full copies of the two emails about this incident written by Bretones.

Both letters are highly professional and empathetic in nature.

The emails of June 9 and 23, 2022 from the Bretons are addressed to “Dear Northfield Families”.

Bretones said in the first email that “the individual apologized, said he was changing his wet clothes and left without incident.”

Bretones also confirms that they contacted the Northfield Police Department to report the incident. They provided the Northfield Police Department with a description of the man. Northfield Police said they would keep Northfield Community School informed as needed.

On Wednesday, June 8, 2022, Northfield Community School received confirmation that this same man was involved in other incidents in nearby towns.

Bretones ends the email of June 8, 2022 with:

“This communication is greatly appreciated and needed as we continue to work together to do everything we can to keep everyone as safe as possible.”

The first email did not allay parents’ concerns, necessitating the Bretones’ follow-up communication two weeks later on June 23, 2022.

The following information was known at the time of the first email of June 8, 2022, but was not included.

In the second email, June 23, 2022, Bretones recaps much of the content of the first email, but adds something new:

Our director, accompanied by a guidance counsellor, a secretary and another staff member, looked out of the
primary school entrance gates to check if the person
was still in the bushes. The gate is about 50-60 meters from the bushes and no one left the gate. Seeing that the person was still there, he was told he had to leave.

Bretones confirms that the man left for New Road without further incident. He wrote that the whole incident lasted less than a minute.

Bretones concluded the second letter by saying:

I apologize for all the worries that our families
have experienced this situation, but know that we take the safety of our students and staff very seriously. For this reason, we have reflected on the entire incident and analyzed our responses during and after the incident. This reflection led us to move the bike racks away from the perimeter of the schoolyard, to increase collaboration with the NPD and to review the emergency drills that we practice each month throughout the school year.

Parents we spoke to are unhappy and believe the district was trying to downplay the incident.

SOURCES: Parents of Northfield Community School and two emails written by Pedro Bretones, Superintendent of Northfield Public Schools.

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