N.J. Reporter and Lab Tech Face Trespassing Charges at Closed School

By: A New Jeresey newspaper reporter and lab technician face trespassing charges following their arrests at a school that was closed over safety concerns about pesticide contamination.

The pair had gone to the West Brook Middle School on June 2 to collect soil for an independent analysis, The Record of Bergen County reported.

The school was closed May 29 by Mayor James Tedesco soon after a story by Record reporter Michael Gartland revealed that school officials had known of tainted soil for five months but did not notify parents until May 23.

Gartland and Thomas Adamkiewicz, a field manager for Aqua Pro-Teach Laboratories of Fairfield, had their shoes and socks removed and had their feet sprayed with water for decontamination, the newspaper reported.

Gartland, 33, of Jersey City, and Adamkiewicz, 63, of Hewitt, were released a few hours after their arrests on their own recognizance according to Frank Burgos, managing editor of The Record.

Police seized soil samples and the newspaper will seek to have them returned, Burgos said.

"We are vigorously defending our rights here, and we will be vigorously investigating the safety of soil in public places in Paramus," Burgos said.

Messages seeking comment from police and school officials were not returned in time for this article.

Deputy Chief Richard Cary told the newspaper on June 2 that the two men had trespassed and were obstructing an ongoing state investigation.

"We put up police tape and barricades, so they clearly knew that they were not permitted to enter the site," Cary told The Record. "They had to get through barricades to get to where they went."

The state Department of Environmental Protection is examining how the school district handled the situation. The DEP is also testing the soil around the school and air inside the building to determine if there are any health hazards.

Meanwhile the school's 700 students, in grades 5-8, are attending classes at Bergen Community College.


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