HAMPSTEAD — Dr. Earl Metzler, superintendent of Timberlane Regional School District, released a no-trespass order against Jorge Mesa-Tejada, chairman of the Hampstead Advisory Budget Committee, on Friday.
Due to comments he made at a Jan. 14 meeting, Mesa-Tejada has been denied access to any Hampstead School District property without the expressed, written permission of the superintendent.
Those properties include any vehicle used for school district purposes, athletic fields and playgrounds.
Metzler said he took action under the direction of the chief of police.
While reviewing the school district's 2016 warrant, specifically the bond article for renovations at Hampstead Central School, Mesa-Tejada reportedly made inappropriate comments about the School Board's concerns about the safety of students.
"If you watch the infomercial that we saw during the public hearing," Mesa-Tejada said during the meeting, "the issue of safety for a student going from a portable to the main building was emphasized — based on today's situation. You can have snipers anywhere, shooting people and all that, they might be shot. Well, that's true, it could happen.
"But based on my Marine Corps training, if I wanted to bring you harm, I wouldn't do it while they're going from the portables to the main building. I would wait 'til recess, I would hide in the woods behind them, and I'd have a field day."
Though the superintendent was not in attendance, he said he received a flood of messages from concerned parents and community members.
"When I saw the recording, I had two first reactions," said Caitlin Parnell, a mother of a first- and third-grader. "One was disbelief that an elected official would be talking this way, and my second reaction was to feel sick to my stomach."
According to Metzler, this isn't the first time the district has had to talk to the chairman.
"We've had to speak to him on several occasions about how he conducts himself around children and his tone and interactions with school personnel," Metlzer said. "It isn't always appropriate, but we've never dealt with something like this."
Action was taken, he added, to assure the safety of all children and ease the minds of many concerned parents.
Mesa-Tejada, reached via email Friday, said his statements mentioned by Metzler in a press release were a "gross exaggeration of my actual words in context."
Hampstead School Board Chairman Jason Cipriano agrees with Metzler that there was definite unease in the district Friday.
"I've done my best over time to have a civil relationship with him and other members of the budget committee, and my expectations during this professional meeting is that he would discuss the fiscal proposal, but to dissolve into a conversation where he describes a mass murder at our elementary school is outrageous and disgusting," Cipriano said.
The written order, which was delivered to Mesa-Tejada by hand, will remain in effect until Metzler provides written notification to rescind.