August 5, 2019
Dear Newark parents and caregivers:
This week, we experienced a very disturbing incident at Rotunda Recreation Center. On behalf of the entireCity of Newark, I want to apologize for this episode to you, all of the parents and children who use our recreation centers as a place of refuge and learning, and to all of our employees who take their jobs and responsibilities seriously.This was an ugly moment for us all. It smeared the incredible work and opportunity that happens here. I used the city’s recreation facilities when I was growing up, where I had enjoyable experiences that I have benefitted from throughout my life, and I know you want the same for your children.
As you know, three part-time employees of the city’s Division of Recreation were arrested on Wednesday by federal agencies and our own Newark Police Division, in an investigation of a drug trafficking ring. According to the investigation, these individuals used the Rotunda Center as a place to stash drugs and cash as part of their illegal operations. Such behavior is appalling and despicable. We are prosecuting these persons to the fullest extent of the law, and have terminated them from municipal employment.
I want to share with you directly what we are doing to prevent a recurrence of such incidents, and to assure you of the safety of our centers for you, your children, and your entire family.
First, I met with our entireRecreation staff at City Hall, to reiterate critically important city policies on this issue. In addition, we are instituting more rigorous screening procedures for part-time employees, as we do for full-time employees. We are investigating to see if other policies were violated or are being violated. If so, we will act quickly.
Second, I want every Newarkresident, regardless of age, who uses our Recreation Centers, to know that they are perfectly safe and welcoming to all. As summer continues and turns to fall,they will continue to offer a wide array of programs, for all residents, thatwill empower the mind, heart, and spirit of our city. I urge you to come to ourcenters, and enjoy them to the fullest.
All the best!
Ras J. Baraka