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Atlantic City officials address Galloway’s ‘racist’ concerns

Atlantic City’s mayor held a press conference to combat what he claims were racist views concerning the city’s alternative students moving to a school in Galloway Township.
“The bottom line is the comments were racist,” Mayor Marty Small said during a press conference held a day after Galloway Township residents expressed concern that Atlantic City’s alternative school would be coming to a location off Jimmie Leeds Road.
“It’s black and brown kids from Atlantic City, and they thought the worst,” he said.
The allegation was sparked by video BreakingAC posted from Galloway Township’s Committee meeting Tuesday night, when Galloway Police Chief Donna Higbee again alerted residents about the new school.
Higbee said she had no issue with the students but was concerned that she got no warning about the move.
Public safety will be an issue, she said, citing 71 police reports concerning those students over the last 18 months the school was house in Mays Landing’s Atlantic County Institute of Technology.
Small refused to address those questions, instead focusing on remarks by residents who included a man asking about getting a gun permit.
Assistant Superintendent Sherry Yahn attended the press conference Wednesday, attempting to clarify “the many inaccuracies and untruths provided at the (Galloway) meeting.”
But she seemed to raise more questions, including the many towns that may have been considered to house the alternative school, including Hamilton Township and Ventnor.
It was unclear when the Galloway site was chosen. Yahn said that was a decision for the vendor, Camelot Education Resources
She tried to clarify that It’s not a school, but an alternative program that is open to high school and middle school students and even students from other municipalities in Atlantic County.
But while she claimed Pleasantville and one Greater Egg school showed interest after the facility opens in person, no other districts aside from Atlantic City have signed on.
It was Atlantic City that chose Camelot during an August 2020 meeting, Board of Education minutes show.
Only Atlantic City is responsible for those payments, which were also unclear for the first year.
The agreement voted on has the first year costing $18,613 per student for 90 students in a district facility or $26,371 per student in third-party facility.
The per student cost for 105 students would be $18,169 or $24,819, respectively.
But this year, the students were all virtual, so it’s not clear what that cost was.
There are also questions about Camelot itself.
“They are nationally known,” Small said. “They do a great job everywhere they’ve been.”
But in 2017, several cities began questioning their relationships with the Texas-based company following allegations of student abuse, Slate reported.
Meanwhile, school board President Shay Steele said he will be looking into what can be done about board member John Devlin, who went to the Galloway meeting to address concerns.
Steele said he would be talking to other board members and solicitor Tracy Riley, but he did not detail what action he might try to take.
Devlin, who grew up in Galloway, told the committee that Atlantic City is not transparent, even with board members.
“I’m not going to be thrown off by some idle threats,” Devlin told Breaking AC.
“At the end of the day, the students need to be in a classroom,” he said. “I’m not going to sit back and let them fall on their face, and I’m not going to be scared off by some lose canon like Marty Small or Shay Steele.
“I’m not going to cease until our children are placed in the classroom,” he added. “End of story.”

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