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    Rutgers and other colleges won't rescind offers to students who are disciplined for joining walkouts or peaceful protests.

    A New Jersey school reportedly threatened to suspend students and revoke prom privileges over a school sit-in, on the same day several of the state's colleges said they won't hold it against high schoolers if they get in trouble for protesting. 

    Students at Cherry Hill High School East were warned during Monday morning's announcements that they would be suspended and banned from their senior trip and prom if they participated in a "planned disruption," according to PhillyVoice.com. 

    At the time, students were already taking part in a sit-in to support a teacher  who was suspended last week for raising conners about school security, according to the report. 

    The warning came a students across the state are already planning to join in a national walkout on March 14.

    Echoing colleges across the country, Rutgers University, The College of New Jersey and others weighed in on Monday, saying students disciplined for peaceful protests don't have to worry. 

    "We want to reassure students who have applied or have been admitted... that disciplinary actions associated with participation in peaceful protests will not jeopardize your admission," Rutgers University said in a tweet. 

    The assurances come as at least one local high school reportedly threatened to punish students who participated in a sit-in Monday. 

    High schoolers responses to the deadly school shooting in Parkland, Florida prompted questions from students, faculty, and alumni on how participation in peaceful protests might impact an applicants offer of admission, said Luke Sacks, a spokesman at The College of New Jersey.

    "So we felt it was important to communicate the college's position quickly and publicly," Sacks said.

    The university's stance is not just specific to Parkland but to peaceful, lawful protest in general, he added. 

    Rutgers' announcement is a reaffirmation of its an ongoing policy, spokeswoman Dory Devlin said. 

    Drew University and Monmouth University also posted statements on social media supporting students' right to peaceful protests. 

    Adam Clark may be reached at adam_clark@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on twitter at @realAdamClarkFind NJ.com on Facebook

     

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    Check out NJ.com's interactive, printable brackets for this year's tournament.


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    Sorting through the madness and breaking down some of the best state tournament action so far.


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    Two New Brunswick Middle School students have been charged with making gun-related comments in the last several days

    A 12-year-old student at New Brunswick Middle School has been charged with making a false threat about a gun in his backpack just three days after another student at the same school was accused of a similar threat.

    The 12-year-old was charged Monday with creating a false public alarm after making comments about having a gun, New Brunswick police said in a statement Tuesday.

    Other students told a teacher and school officials notified police after learning of the remarks at the end of the school day, Capt. J.T. Miler said.

    After determining there was no gun in his backpack, police checked the student's house and found no weapons there either, authorities said.

    10 days of tension: Potential threats investigated at 17 N.J. schools

    On Friday, a 14-year-old student at the school was also charged with the same offense after making reference to a gun in his backpack. He later said he was "joking," according to police. 

    "The New Brunswick Police Department and the New Brunswick Public Schools take these threats very seriously," police said in a statement. "Even if students perceive them as jokes, the consequences can be serious."

    There have been a rash of false threats against schools since the Feb. 14 shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 people dead. A former student was arrested and charged in that case.

    Jeff Goldman may be reached at jeff_goldman@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @JeffSGoldman. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

     

     


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    The Plainsboro man struck a pole before being hit by another vehicle

    A 50-year-old New Jersey man was killed after his car struck a utility pole before being hit by another vehicle Sunday night, authorities said. 

    Dmitriy Kupriyanov, of Plainsboro, was driving south on County Route 601 near Pleasant View Road when he struck a utility pole around 10:15 p.m, Montgomery police said in a statement.

    Stroller, toys scatter roadway after crash kills 2

    The crash sent Kupriyanov's vehicle back onto the road, where it was struck by an SUV driven by a 24-year-old Hillsborough man.

    Kupriyanov was pronounced dead at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick. 

    The crash closed Route 601 for about three hours.

    Jeff Goldman may be reached at jeff_goldman@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @JeffSGoldman. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

     

     


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    The NJSIAA will seed the 2018 individual state tournament brackets Tuesday. Check here often for updates on seedings, pairings and brackets


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    Kent Kollmer was a math teacher for New Brunswick High School for 39 years, according to records

    A Franklin Township man has been arrested on child pornography charges following a tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), the Somerset County Prosecutor's Office said. 

    Kent Kollmer, 70, is accused uploading and downloading over the Internet sexually explicit images of children under the age of 18, the office said.

    Kollmer.jpgKent Kollmer 

    He's charged with third-degree endangering the welfare of a child, and third-degree possession of child pornography.

    Kollmer was a math teacher for New Brunswick High School for 39 years, according to New Brunswick Board of Education meeting minutes and state pension records.

    He retired from teaching in 2010.

    Kollmer was arrested on Friday, Feb. 23 at about 6 a.m. when authorities searched his home. The search revealed child pornography and detectives seized multiple digital devices for further computer forensic examination, the office said.

    Kollmer is currently being held in the Somerset County jail awaiting a detention hearing. 

    Olivia Rizzo may be reached at orizzo@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @LivRizz. Find NJ.com on Facebook 

     

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    In a letter released to parishioners, Metuchen Bishop James Checchio announced the suspension of Father Patrick Kuffner while an investigation into the alleged abuse ensues.

    Three people have accused a priest of sexually abusing them as minors in cases that date back decades, to before the man was a priest, the Metuchen Diocese has announced. 

    In a letter released online Sunday to parishioners of Our Lady of Mount Virgin in Middlesex, Metuchen Bishop James Checchio announced the suspension of Father Patrick Kuffner while an investigation into the alleged abuse ensues. 

    "I am deeply shocked and saddened at this development, and I have a heavy heart for the individuals who came forward after many years of having carried such a tremendous burden," he wrote.

    The allegations stem from Kuffner's first career as a teacher in Staten Island and are three decades old, the letter said. 

    Three law enforcement agencies have launched investigations into Kuffner, but two have since determined that the statute of limitation has passed, Checchio said.

    Checchio did not detail the allegations, except to say he did not believe any such incident had occurred during Kuffner's tenure in Middlesex. 

    Kuffner did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday afternoon. 

    Kuffner was ordained in 2002 and began his second career in the ministry as parochial vicar at St. Bartholomew Parish in East Brunswick, according to a report from MyCentralJersey. He had enrolled in the Blessed John XXIII Seminary in Weston, Mass., which specializes in "second-career" ministry after he left education behind in the late 1990s. 

    Before that, he taught and coached basketball at Sacred Heart in West Brighton, was an assistant principal at Moore Catholic High School eventually principal at St. Peter's Elementary School in New Brighton from 1993 to 1998, according to the Staten Island Advance. He was also an interim principal at St. Peter's Girls High School in the late 1990s. 

    The Middlesex Police Department is not actively investigating any allegations against Kuffner, Captain Frank DeNick with the Middlesex Police Department said Tuesday. 

    Checchio encouraged anyone who had information about Kuffner or other instances of clergy abuse contact Lawrence Nagle, director of the diocesan Office of Child and Youth Protection at 732-562-2413.

    Amanda Hoover can be reached at ahoover@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @amandahoovernj. Find NJ.com on Facebook

    Have a tip? Tell us. nj.com/tips


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    Each of N.J. hockey's four state tournament brackets are down to their Final Fours.


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    If immigration agents appear at the North Brunswick municipal court, they'll face a team of volunteer lookouts, ready to alert the area's unauthorized immigrants to the ICE presence. Watch video

    Immigration officials have showed up at housesbus stops and convenience stores to detain unauthorized immigrants.

    And in the last year, U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agents have also increased their presence at courthouses, according to multiple reports. The New York Times reported that 87 people were arrested at courthouses in New York City in 2017, and that 13 people have been taken into custody so far this year.

    But if federal immigration agents appear at the North Brunswick municipal court, they'll face a team of volunteer lookouts, ready to alert the area's unauthorized immigrants to the ICE presence.

    The volunteers are members of a "Deportation and Immigration Response Equipo," or DIRE, a group acting under the organization of outspoken pastor Rev. Seth Kaper-Dale.

    Beginning Tuesday, Kaper-Dale said DIRE will stand vigilant in the parking lot of the municipal building any time court is in session.

    DIRE volunteerA DIRE volunteer stands at the entrance of the North Brunswick municipal building, vigilant for any ICE activity. (Sophie Nieto-Munoz | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com) 

    The team of volunteers, donning yellow vests with DIRE's hotline information, will monitor docket numbers and witness lists for those at risk of being targeted by ICE.

    They will also survey the parking lot for the presence of ICE, distribute informational handouts, and publicize any incidents, volunteer Joel Wattacherio said.

    Can ICE stake out courthouses?

    "We're not here to obstruct justice," he said. "We're here to protect the community and eliminate an ominous threat in our parking lots. Our idea is to be a public support."

    North Brunswick is the state's first municipality welcoming "some level of surveillance outside the courthouse," said Kaper-Dale, who heads the Reformed Church of Highland Park where three Indonesian immigrants recently left sanctuary.

    Kaper-Dale said he worked with town officials to organize the initiative after ICE arrested three unauthorized immigrants in the courthouse parking lot in 2017, and following the agency's update regarding "sensitive locations."

    Calls to Francis Womack, the North Brunswick mayor, were not returned by late Tuesday afternoon.

    Up until January, courthouses were included as sensitive locations where ICE limited its enforcement activities, a list that includes schools, hospitals and houses of worship.

    "ICE civil immigration enforcement actions inside courthouses include actions against specific, targeted aliens with criminal convictions, gang members, national security or public safety threats, aliens who have been ordered removed from the United States but have failed to depart, and aliens who have re-entered the country illegally after being removed, when ICE officers or agents have information that leads them to believe the targeted aliens are present at that specific location," the agency said in its January update.

    ICE did not immediately respond to request for comment.

    Kaper-Dale said the change in ICE policy undermines justice and can increase already heightened tensions between police and fearful communities, who may confuse local law enforcement with ICE.

    "For ICE to say that from now on ... courthouses are not safe places, that these are not sensitive locations, they risk undermining the very sense of safety that we have with our court system and with our police force," he said.

    Sophie Nieto-Munoz may be reached at snietomunoz@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her at @snietomunoz. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

    Have a tip? Tell us. nj.com/tips


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    Gov. Phil Murphy on Tuesday signed an executive order focused on creating jobs and improving the state's economy. Watch video

    Gov. Phil Murphy has repeatedly vowed to bring a "stronger and fairer economy" to New Jersey.

    On Tuesday, he created a panel to help him follow through.

    Murphy signed an executive order establishing the Jobs and Economic Opportunity Council, which is tasked with giving him advice and recommendations for how to grow jobs and develop the economy. 

    "The people of New Jersey want us to reject the status quo that's held us back," Murphy said during a news conference at an International Union of Operating Engineers training site in the Dayton section of South Brunswick. "They want us to think big and to act big." 

    The council will study national and state economic trends, recommend possible moves the government can make to create jobs, find ways to fund infrastructure, and develop software technology to help those looking for work, according to the order.

    Murphy, a Democrat, has often blamed his Republican predecessor, Gov. Chris Christie, for leaving him with a broken economy in the state.

    New Jersey's unemployment rate dropped significantly under Christie, who argued that he helped revive New Jersey's economy. Murphy succeeded Christie on Jan. 16.

    But surveys often rank the state's economy as one of the worst in the nation. And New Jersey's unemployment rate is currently at 5.0 percent -- almost a full percentage point higher than the U.S. rate.

    Murphy stressed Tuesday that this 12-member council "is just the beginning" and that he is two weeks away from introducing his first state budget proposal, which he said will "break from the failed policies of the past." His will deliver his budget address March 13.

    Murphy said one of his transition committees recommended the council, which the order says will meet "as often as practicable" and will be "purely advisory in nature."

    Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver will head the committee, which will include a number of Murphy cabinet officials and advisers. 

    This is Murphy's 12th executive order since taking office six weeks ago.

    Brent Johnson may be reached at bjohnson@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @johnsb01. Find NJ.com Politics on Facebook.


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    You think your local high school is great. Does the state's new rating system agree?


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    NJ Advance Media previews the NJSIAA State wrestling championships. Some of the wrestlers featured are: Anthony Clark, Delbarton; Sammy Alvarez, St. Joseph (Mont).; Antonio Mininno, Gateway-Woodbury; Robert Howard, Bergen Catholic; JoJo Aragona, Pope John; Nicholas Raimo, Hanover Park; Patrick Glory, Delbarton; Michael O'Malley, Hasbrouck Heights; Antonio Mininno, Gateway-Woodbury.


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    Highlights from the state tournament.


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    The fire started in the basement of the Edison house at 5:40 a.m., Edison Fire Department officials said. Watch video

    A 75-year-old man was killed and three other people were injured in a fire that destroyed a Middlesex County home early Wednesday, authorities said.

    The fire started in the basement of the Edison house at 5:40 a.m., Edison Fire Department officials said.

    The 75-year-old resident was found dead in the basement of the house on Livingston Avenue, authorities said. His name has not been released. 

    The victim's 53-year-old son, who was temporarily staying in the home, was able to get the victim's 70-year-old brother and 60-year-old sister to safety.

    He couldn't return to the home to save his father because the blaze grew too intense.

    The 70-year-old man was treated at a hospital for burns. The woman and the deceased victim's son were treated for smoke inhalation.

    The Associated Press contributed to this report.  

    Sophie Nieto-Munoz may be reached at snietomunoz@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her at @snietomunoz. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

    Have a tip? Tell us. nj.com/tips

     

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    What you need to know from the state tournament


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    Who will move on to the sectional semifinals? Take a look at our staff picks.


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    You know the names at the top, but what currently unranked wrestlers in NJ.com's individual rankings have the potential to make deep runs at Boardwalk Hall?


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    Rutgers and other colleges won't rescind offers to students who are disciplined for joining walkouts or peaceful protests.

    A New Jersey school reportedly threatened to suspend students and revoke prom privileges over a school sit-in, on the same day several of the state's colleges said they won't hold it against high schoolers if they get in trouble for protesting. 

    Students at Cherry Hill High School East were warned during Monday morning's announcements that they would be suspended and banned from their senior trip and prom if they participated in a "planned disruption," according to PhillyVoice.com. 

    At the time, students were already taking part in a sit-in to support a teacher  who was suspended last week for raising concerns about school security, according to the report. 

    The warning came a students across the state are already planning to join in a national walkout on March 14.

    Echoing colleges across the country, Rutgers University, The College of New Jersey and others weighed in on Monday, saying students disciplined for peaceful protests don't have to worry. 

    "We want to reassure students who have applied or have been admitted... that disciplinary actions associated with participation in peaceful protests will not jeopardize your admission," Rutgers University said in a tweet. 

    The assurances come as at least one local high school reportedly threatened to punish students who participated in a sit-in Monday. 

    High schoolers' responses to the deadly school shooting in Parkland, Florida prompted questions from students, faculty, and alumni on how participation in peaceful protests might impact an applicants offer of admission, said Luke Sacks, a spokesman at The College of New Jersey.

    "So we felt it was important to communicate the college's position quickly and publicly," Sacks said.

    The university's stance is not just specific to Parkland but to peaceful, lawful protest in general, he added. 

    Rutgers' announcement is a reaffirmation of its an ongoing policy, spokeswoman Dory Devlin said. 

    Drew University and Monmouth University also posted statements on social media supporting students' right to peaceful protests. 

    Adam Clark may be reached at adam_clark@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on twitter at @realAdamClarkFind NJ.com on Facebook

     

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    Sorting through the madness and breaking down some of the best state tournament action so far.


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