-- Top school officials will huddle privately this morning to discuss a classroom war crimes "trial"of President Bush at Parsippany High School that suddenly is drawing national attention.
school board's president, Robert Perlett, said the 8:30 a.m. meeting was called by mutual agreement on Thursday as
the uproar surrounding the mock tribunal escalated on the Internet and talk radio.
Perlett said no decision had been made to
halt the trial, which is to enter a fourth day today after classes were canceled Thursday due to the snowstorm.
"There is no curtailment of what is going
on at the school, at present,"Perlett said.
Perlett said that the high school's principal, Anthony Sciaino, would attend the meeting. Sciaino, who did not return a phone
call Thursday, said on Wednesday evening that he approved the senior advanced placement government class project in advance.
Superintendent James Dwyer, Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum Kathleen Sleezer and board Vice President Alan Gordon
will also attend, Perlett said.
Teacher not invited
Kyle, whose class is trying Bush for alleged "crimes against civilian populations"and "inhumane treatment of prisoners,"
was not invited, Perlett said.
"It's going to be very interesting. We might
as well wait and see if a shoe drops or not," said teachers union President John Capsouras.
Capsouras spoke to Kyle by telephone on
Thursday evening about the controversy stemming from the trial, in which students are playing the roles of prosecutors, defense
lawyers and witnesses and a five-teacher "international court of justice"is sitting in judgment.
"Joe is fine. He's a good man, and he's
fine," Capsouras said of Kyle, who is the union's vice president and chief negotiator.
Capsouras said Kyle, an eight-year teacher
at the high school, was in good spirits despite some crank calls. He said that Kyle, in terms of his job, should be in the
clear unless "somebody decides they didn't give him permission" for the project.
Catherine Galdun, one of four student prosecutors,
said she would be upset if the trial -- which Kyle, on Wednesday, likened to a hearing -- is halted.
"I would say that we're doing this in a
fair and balanced way," said Galdun, 18.
"We're looking at both sides of it. If they
don't believe that's right to do in a classroom -- to debate both sides of an issue -- I don't agree with that," Galdun said.
A chorus of criticism ensued after a Daily
Record story about the project was linked to the Drudge Report on the Internet and discussed on various news programs on Thursday,
with e-mails from across the nation calling Kyle a disgrace, a traitor and worse.
"If my child came home from school and told
me this was going on, I would have someone's head. This is akin to treason," wrote Karen LaBauve of Roswell, N.M., in an e-mail
to the Daily Record.
A smaller number praised Kyle.
"So-called conservatives don't have a clue
as to what they've bred or are breeding. We need more teachers like Joseph Kyle," wrote Belita R. T. Franklin of Jacksonville,
Jamie Barberio, defeated in the Republican
primary for mayor last year, joined former county Sheriff John Fox of Parsippany and Freeholder Jack Schrier of Mendham Township
in slamming the project.
"We're presuming that President Bush is
an indictable war criminal, when he's not," Barberio said. "How about teaching that he's not a war criminal."
A phone call to the White House press office
was not returned Thursday.
Dwyer, Sciaino and Kyle did not return phone
Another student prosecutor, Stephanie Foltzer,
said that after Kyle proposed holding the trial in January, the class was fully in agreement about proceeding.
Foltzer said that extensive research went
into the project. At trial, she questioned two of nine prosecution "witnesses"-- students standing in for Sen. John McCain
and Hachemi Abdullah, an Iraqi man who allegedly lost several family members in a U.S. bombing raid.
"I can understand the controversy, but I
think people are taking this a little bit too far," Foltzer said.
Township Council Vice President James Vigilante,
a U.S. Air Force reservist, saw a little bit of both sides.
"I'm a Bush fan. I don't necessarily, myself,
agree with the lesson plan, but on the flip side, I wouldn't condemn the teacher," said Vigilante, a Republican.
"I would hope he's not censored by the school
board. For me, it's the right of free speech," Vigilante said.