Bettering Plainfield with the facts since 2005

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Why is resolving the "Black puppet" incident at Johnson HS taking so long?

An image of the Black puppet
by Andre Payton and posted to Facebook.

It is now nearly three weeks since the Black puppet found in the art classroom at Arthur L. Johnson HS used as a changing room by the Plainfield girls basketball team hit the news. And the questions raised are still "under investigation", according to a story posted on today, noting that a game between Plainfield and Clark is being postponed because the investigation is ongoing.

What is going on? Why is it taking so long to get to the bottom of this? And did the incident really have a racial component?

Seems to me two things have caused the investigation to grow larger and larger -- incomplete reporting by the news media that fanned speculation the puppet was racially motivated, and the involvement of larger and larger circles of bureaucracy in the investigation -- which now include the Clark school's prinicpal, school superintendent and mayor; the Plainfield schools superintendent, the Union County Prosecutor's office, and the NJ Division of Human Rights.

As for the media's flubs in reportage:
  • The first few stories couldn't make up their mind if the object was a "mannequin", a "dummy" or a "puppet", and initially what is clearly a string in the photo was described as a "noose";

  • A Jan. 9 Ledger story offering a Clark mom's explanation that it was an arts project by a student fan of LeBron James (see here) was never followed up on by the media;

  • It wasn't until NJ101.5 picked up the story on Jan. 10 that anyone mentioned that the room assigned to the Plainfield girls team was an art classroom and that the Clark team had also used a classroom.
I simply don't understand why no one seems to have been interested in following the mother's story. It seems it would have been easiest to check out: the principal or superintendent (or even an enterprising reporter) could simply ask the teacher whose room it was what the puppet was doing there. If it was an art project, if it was an homage to LeBron James, wouldn't that be the end of the matter?

Seems to me like this is just another example of what happens when a bureaucracy sinks its teeth into an issue.

Theresa Ann Moroney Teacher and Plainfield bookstore owner was an avid reader and adventurous cook Theresa Ann Moroney of Plainfield, N.J., died on Jan. 19, 2017, from complications of breast cancer. Family and friends are invited to join together to honor Terry's life at The Landing, 311 Amwell Rd., Hillsborough, N.J., on Sunday, Jan. 22, for brunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Terry was born on March 24, 1944, in Summit, N.J., to Mary Gallagher and David Moroney, the seventh of nine children. She graduated from St. Teresa's Grammar School, Summit, in 1958, and attended three high schools: Summit High for two years, followed by a year at Madison High, before graduating from South Plainfield High in 1962. Terry attended Fairleigh Dickinson University while working night shifts at her sister Catherine's diner, becoming the first member of her family to graduate from college with a B.A. in English in 1967. While at FDU she served as editor for the school newspaper. After graduation, Terry and her sister Grace travelled across the country. Terry began her teaching career at Westfield High in 1967 and continued at Plainfield High. In 1972 the call of the highway beckoned once more, and she and Grace continued their cross-country exploration. Upon returning to New Jersey, Terry met and married the love of her life, David Beck, and soon welcomed two sons into her world. In 1980 she reentered the work force, teaching adult education in Plainfield and New Brunswick, N.J., a vocation in which she took tremendous pride. In 1992 Terry returned to high school, teaching at North Plainfield until her retirement in 2009. In 1997 Terry opened "Another Look Books" in Plainfield. A labor of love, the used book store served the downtown community until closing its doors in the early 2000's. Terry was active in the Cook School PTA, and while at North Plainfield she served as advisor for the school newspaper and lent her aid to countless students; she took particular joy in helping her ESL students apply to college. She was an active member of the Plainfield Historical Society and the Democratic Committee in Plainfield. Terry was an avid reader and adventurous cook; the two pursuits birthed an extensive and lovingly used library of cookbooks and personal recipes. Terry was predeceased by her husband, David Michael Beck, in 2014. She is survived by her sons, Andrew David and Richard Evelyn; her daughter-in-law, Christine Beck, and grandsons, Damien Carter and Alexander David. The seventh of nine children, Terry is survived by her sister, Constance Costello Rooney. She was predeceased by her brothers, David, Richard, and James, and her sisters, Margaret, Catherine, Rosemary, and Grace. In New Jersey, Terry will be missed by her sister-in-law, Kathleen Moroney; nephews, Charles Femminella and his wife, Charlotte Ryden, Christopher (Gretchen), Sean (Karen), and Mark Moroney (Kelly); nieces, Regina and Renee Femminella, Maureen Pena (Joseph), Sandra Roberts (Steve Kosciolek), and Jennifer McBride (Sean); in Virginia, by Moyra Moroney; in Arizona, by her brother-in-law, Paul Beck and, in Hawaii, by John Beck; and many grand-nephews and grand-nieces. - See more at:

  -- Dan Damon [follow]
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