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School Board Fires Back at Police

Tension arose at a meeting Monday of the Weston Board of Education as it disputed charges from the Police Commission that the schools had failed to report crimes to the police.

Board of Education Chair Phil Schaefer said he was "stunned" to learn that the statements were made at the Police Commission's Sept. 7 meeting without the school board's knowledge. Schaefer said the statements do not accurately represent the relationship between the police department and the schools.

Superintendent Jerome Belair said he was surprised and disappointed. "Our top priority in Weston Public Schools is the safety and success of all students and staff," he said.

Belair said he meets monthly with First Selectman Gayle Weinstein and Chief John Troxell. "The frequency of our contact has never been an issue," he said. "Contact with the police department has made all of the difference in our district."

He cited instances, including student drug problems, harassment and partying, in which the schools had contacted the Weston police. "We have not withheld any information from police," he said.

Troxell pointed out what he believes are "holes in communication" between the groups. Troxell said the police should have been informed of former bus driver Scott Deicas' transfer out of town, even though the grounds of his dismissal were not threatening at the time.

Belair said there is no agreement on what constitutes a police matter.

"We've got to make a big deal of the little things because these things turn into a big deal when they get to the high school," said Troxell, referring to an incident in which a third-grader with a box cutter was not reported to police. He said police must be alerted to issues before they escalate, even if arrests are not warranted. "My job is to point out all these failures," he said. "Don't suggest to me you understand what I go through in my position, either."

First Selectman Gayle Weinstein said that both parties agreed to share their procedures more clearly to eliminate some of the "gray area". "I think that's a very important first step," she said.

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