Cianfarini Standing by ‘Heroin High’ Comments

The Republican township committeeman said his words are being taken out of context for political reasons.

With the controversy still swirling, West Deptford committeeman Sam Cianfarini said Thursday he isn’t backing down or apologizing for controversial remarks he made at a closed-door staff meeting last week.

It was just two words—“Heroin High”—that ignited the firestorm, which Cianfarini said has been taken out of context and used for purely political purposes.

“I did not demean the school in any way,” he said, sticking to his assertion he was quoting others when he made the reference originally. “I was not referring to as ‘Heroin High’ from my own perspective.”

Cianfarini said he’s heard the reference numerous times over the past several years, as his sons have gone through West Deptford High School, and brought it up during a township department head meeting as a way of bringing a problem to light.

“I’m saying that categorization is out there, and it’s unacceptable,” he said.

School officials, however, called Cianfarini’s repetition of the phrase, “disappointing.”

Superintendent Kevin Kitchenman said the implications of the statement are simply wrong.

“It’s unfortunate that a reference like that was made,” he said. “It paints a very inaccurate picture of West Deptford High School.”

Members of the public who spoke at both last week’s township committee meeting as well as Thursday night’s seemed to agree with that sentiment, excoriating Cianfarini for the remarks.

Tom Sullivan, who first brought the issue up last week, called the repeated reference “insensitive and irresponsible.”

“I’m quite concerned…why he’d make a comment such as that,” Sullivan said.

Terry Holovachuk was livid as she slammed Cianfarini for what she called a bad choice by an elected leader.

“I do not care how many people might be saying the same thing outside; it is your role to help to correct the problem, it is not your role to further that comment,” she said. “It was in extremely poor judgment to repeat those words in the forum you did.”

Eric Agren went so far as to bring in a newspaper clipping of an article about West Deptford Middle School students bringing donations to the county animal shelter as a way of offsetting the “Heroin High” comment, which he said did nothing but bring harm to the students.

“I believe there should be a retraction and an apology,” he said.

Though Cianfarini claimed conditions at the high school allowed the label to be applied, there’s little to suggest there’s a factual basis at all for West Deptford High School allegedly being labeled “Heroin High,” or any evidence the moniker, which has been applied to schools throughout the state, from Washington Township to Toms River, is anything but apocryphal.

Cianfarini acknowledged he wasn’t aware of any statistics that would back it up, and in fact, the statistics would seem to disprove it directly.

In the district’s , there were a total of 31 substance abuse incidents throughout West Deptford schools between 2007-2008 and 2009-2010, including 11 at the high school in 2009-2010.

The high school’s also showed little evidence of a widespread drug problem, with six positive tests among 220 in 2010-2011, down from eight each in both 2009-2010 and 2008-2009.

“We spend a lot of time, a lot of effort educating our kids,” Kitchenman said. “The drug problem in West Deptford is no different than probably any other community in the nation.”

Besides the random drug testing program, the district has also put together to help keep students who might have a substance abuse problem in school and on their way to a high school diploma.

Still, Cianfarini said more can be done to deal with what drug problem does exist in the district.

He’s talked with school board President Christopher Strano already, to discuss the reference, as well as what else could be done to help combat drugs in the district.

Whether that’s creating peer mentoring programs or getting the Police Athletic League involved in some kind of after-school program, Cianfarini said the focus should be on solutions, rather than semantics.

“There are people who are trying to make it political, and shame on them,” he said.

truthhurts February 12, 2012 at 01:53 PM
What does Mayor Ray Chintall, a former State Trooper, have to say about his runningmate's comments? I guess his silence speaks dividends.
Samantha McCall February 12, 2012 at 03:35 PM
Terry, I was at the same township meeting as you, Mr. Cianfarini didn't say this in a public meeting, it was said in a closed meeting. Your words, " He should NEVER repeat such comments, except under the protection of closed session meetings," Someone in that meeting repeated it for all of the township to hear. Honestly, this whole thing is out of control, and to the people fueling the fire, shame on you! Gerry White is pitting this township against each other for his own political gain, and people are feeding into it. SHAME ON ALL OF US.
Samantha McCall February 12, 2012 at 03:39 PM
Well said Mr. Stanton!
Samantha McCall February 12, 2012 at 03:39 PM
Your son is absolutely right. Shame on us.
society February 12, 2012 at 04:38 PM
I would also be interested on what a former state trooper who is the the Mayor of our Township has to say about his fellow councilman calling our high school "Heroin High?" I am sure he can't be too pleased about Councilman Cianfarini indicting our town's police force and school administrators with these unreal comments. What an idictment of Sam's character, what other Councilman would ever say such blatantly horrible things about the students that he represents? Sean Kilpatrick was right, this guy is in it for himself, no one else, but himself. Absolutely shameful.
judy February 12, 2012 at 04:47 PM
First of I all, I must preface my staement by saying that I voted for Councilman Cianfarini and thought that he would bring a fresh vocie and change. Boy, was I wrong. I am not talking about being a Republican or a Democrat. I am talking about being a Mother. There is no justification of refering to our students as "heroin addicts" and our high school as "heroin high." The clowns that are making up excuses for this Councilman are as bad as him in my honest opinion. Closed-door meeting, on the street, wherever----SAM CIANFARINI IS A COUNCILMAN. He cannot say this about our children anywhere! There are no facts to back up his claims. NONE. In fact, as the Superintendent of our school pointed out, statistics disprove this theory that Sam just plucked out of the air to make himself looka and feel important. You have to remember, we are talking about a Councilman here, a guy who represents West Deptford. He should be held to a higher standard and must think before he speaks. Instead of ripping the whistleblower, we should laud him or her. It was not alright what was said, I don't care if it was behind closed doors or not. No one should speak about the youth of our town like that, especially a Councilman!!! This guy should have to answer for these comments and should be forced to resign.
GatewayParent February 12, 2012 at 05:06 PM
I am retired. I am 72-years-old. My three kids went through the Gateway Regional High School district. All three went on to college (Dickinson, Rutgers, Villavova). I have two grandchildren who attend West Deptford High School, play sports, and who are great kids. I read this article and could not believe that an acting Councilman refered to the school that he represents as "Heroin High School" without any evidence except hearsay to base his comments on. If a Woodbury Heights Councilman had said this when my kids were at Gateway, I would marched on Borough Hall and demanded answers. This is just so wrong on so many levels. Remember, this isn't a random guy or a random child making this assertion, this is an acting township official with the supposed best interests of the town. This is very sameful behavior from a man is supposed to know better. Maybe this Councilman just isn't that bright, he's not even apologizing, and this is a very forgiving society. To think calling your high school "Heroin High" was OK because others have called it that, is flat-out comical. And shame to the responders who are trying to justify this Councilman's comments, there is no justification for a man in a postion such as this Councilman to say these things. It's not political one bit, so let's not make it political. These words were spoken and were wrong. I am glad that I don't have this Councilman representing my town.
GatewayParent February 12, 2012 at 05:11 PM
Mr. Stanton, from reading the article, it states that there is random drug testing in the high school and that only 6 out of 220 students failed the random tests last year. There superintendent of the high school stated that there is not a problem and offered actual statistics to back up his claim rather than ther "hearsay" Mr. Cianfarini refers to. Where do you see a "perceived problem." You are as bad as the Councilman to try to justify his baseless comments. Have a nice day, sir.
wdpoliceofficer February 12, 2012 at 05:25 PM
Why is the Mayor of our town not having our backs, being that he is a fellow officer of the law? Why is Mayor Chintall hiding under a rock and allowing Councilman Sam Cianfarini to make up false claims that embarrass our police force who do an incredible job of keeping drugs out of not only the High School, but the town in general. I have spoken to our County FOP President and we plan on repsonding to these horrendous allegations. And yes, they are allegations because there are no facts to back-up this uninformed Councilman's claims. Why isn't Ray Chintall responding to this, he is the MAYOR and a State Trooper to boot. To say that I am highly disappointed with Mayor Chintall is an understatement.
inurpatch February 12, 2012 at 06:24 PM
Stop kissing Sam & Rays butt!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
disgustedbycianfarini February 12, 2012 at 08:18 PM
http://www.nj.com/gloucester-county/index.ssf/2012/02/west_deptford_superintendent_p.html Article in Gloucester County Times today with quotes from the police chief and superintednent WHO ACTUALL PROVIDE FACTS AND STATISTICS to call Cianfarini a "LIAR" who just makes up stuff as he pleases. "Heroin High," is just disgusting coming from the mouth of a supposed leader and Councilman. You cannot make this stuff up.
disgustedbycianfarini February 12, 2012 at 08:22 PM
wdpoliceofficer, thanks for the job that you and your fellow officers do, it is appreciated by MOST of us, just not a councilman I guess. I linked an article from the Times today and I am glad that your police chief has your backs.....he actually provides facts and not just "hearsay" that he "heard from others." The Superintendent also does a fine job sticking-up for our school with FACTS AND STATISTICS, not just some ill-conceived malarky invented in his own head to see his name in the paper like Councilman Cianfarini. Thanks for your hard work in providing a safe haven for our children once again, the same children that our Councilman calls "heroin users" without any reasoning.
pizzadom February 12, 2012 at 08:36 PM
I own a pizza parlor/restaurant in town, we serve West Deptford as well as people from other towns. Just today, there were multiple patrons talking about this subject, many even asked our counterperson if "West Deptford High School was infested with heroin?" This is horrible for business and the perception of outsiders. The Councilman should keep his mouth shut, it just takes away from the business in town.
eagleteacher February 12, 2012 at 08:59 PM
A ridiculous comment. And now just read some of the absurd comments trying to justify Sam's behavior. People are actually attacking our high school's football players because a Councilman thought it was alright to go on record and attack the high school that I teach at by labeling the student body "heroin users." Nobody wins here, at this point, the councilman was given an opportunity to back-off his comments, and he still won't do so despite statistics, my superintendent, and the police chief coming to our school's defense. This isn't about politics or Gerry White or the Democrats seeking revenge for a lost election, this is about character and teh students of our town. Any fool knows that you should not call any high school "heroin high," especially one that YOU, as a COUNCILMAN, are elected to represent. I will be talking to our teacher's union tomorrow and hopefully we will provide a letter asking for this Councilman's Resignation. I am both appalled and astonished that one of our own leaders would stoop to this level. There is no justification or excuse that can be made for these offending and hurtful comments. What do you think other teachers from other schools in the Conference are going to be saying about us? Shame on you, Councilman Sam Cianfarini, shame on you!
heroinhigh February 12, 2012 at 09:32 PM
Good for Sam. He must know something that we, as taxpayers don't know. He must have some kind of secret information or be privy to something that no one else knows. I am glad that he pointed-out that West Deptford is heroin-infested and plagued by scum and drugs. I am so happy that I just recently sold my house and can pull my kids out of "Heroin High." I would advise no one to move into West Deptford or send their kids to "Heroin High." Since our Councilman thinks the High School is so infested with hard drugs, I urge all parents to call up West Deptford's Police Force and tell them what a horrible job that they are doing of keeping hard drugs out of both the school and the town. If a Councilman is so concerned that Heroin is part of the High School culture that he has to address the issue behind closed doors to every administrator in town, then he must have inside information on just what an epidemic heroin has become at WD High. Since it's such a problem, I would urge the school nurse to hand out clean needles so AIDS also doesn't become an epidemic. According to our Councilman, West Deptford isn't that far off from Camden. I am so glad that I sold my house and I would urge no one else to move into West Deptford. If we have an acting Councilman saying that the High School is full of a bunch of "heroin users," than it must be true. Thank you, Councilman Cianfarini for bringing this horrible problem to light. West Deptford is trash like you say! I am outta here.....
highschooladdict February 12, 2012 at 09:36 PM
you people act like it's the end of the world what he said.nothing like downplaying the whole situation.political satire at it's best. what about the dealers they have families to feed.could be worse thank god there no murders or rapes at the high school just bringing out the truth what the high school is all about.now i'm sure not all kids are subjected to this environment but first and foremost the problem has to be corrected along with the bullying.
heroinhigh February 12, 2012 at 09:49 PM
I agree. I absolutely think the Councilman did the right thing in telling the Police Chief to get off his butt and to earn his salary. What has this police chief and his officers been doing while this Heroin epidemic has been going on at the high school? I am curious if the Councilman has done his own investigation and has unearthed a cesspool of heroin right in front of our eyes. Are there dealers acting right in the hallways of the school? Are there students shooting up in the bathrooms? Councilman Cianfarini must have a set of eyes in the school and both the POLICE CHIEF AND SUPINTENDENT must be withholding information from the public. For a Councilman to go on record, he must have something on videotape, I would surmise. I would urge and I am sure the Councilman would urge everyone to think twice about sending their kids to a heroin infested, drug-adled high school like West Deptford. Who would even want to move into this town with a police force that sits on their butts all day and allows heroin to be dealt in the high school. Thanks again, Councilman Cianfarini. All these kids that pass their drugs tests must have their parents cheat on the tests for them somehow. And all the parents must know that there kids are drug abusers. West Deptford is a horrible place, even Councilman Cianfarini will you that! This guy doesn't lie.
highschooladdict February 13, 2012 at 12:04 AM
I agree herionhigh it's about time someone brought this to light. but the way it leaked out of the close session and it's all or just one democrat saying the negative things, it had to be donna b or denise d the two bookends at the meetings. subject to the words of the puppetmaster g white. when are these dumb azz dems gonna throw in the towell. pssst want come good chit mon.
Bryan Littel (Editor) February 13, 2012 at 12:13 AM
To clear up any confusion there - it was a closed staff meeting, rather than a closed township committee meeting. Chintall and Cianfarini were the only members of the committee at the meeting where the remarks were originally made.
Another voice February 13, 2012 at 12:46 PM
Bryan, Can we also clear up the confusion by quoting exactly what your "source" (aka township staff member) claims Mr. Cianfarini said at this meeting? I think a quote rather than the general idea would go a long way.
coverup February 13, 2012 at 01:26 PM
Highschooladdict, student101, and redneckwillie3 are all Sam Cianfarini usernames with the SAME EXACT SENTENCE STRUCTURE. Man, this guy is priceless. Instead of owning up to his horrible mistake, apologizing, and moving on, he comes on a public forum and tries to anonymously stick-up for himself. Priceless to say the least.
coverup February 13, 2012 at 01:26 PM
There must be a HUGE cover-up by Councilman Cianfarini and he MUST be with-holding information from both the Police Chief and Superintendent of schools. There must be cheating on the random drug tests that Councilman Cianfarini knows about or he must have hired a private investigator to get some sort of footage on heroin use in the High School. Because if he doesn't have any proof and made these SLANDEROUS comments, than that is grounds for a lawsuit and his resignation because not ONE STUDENT TESTED POSITIVE FOR HEROIN. I can't wait to hear Councilman Cianfarini's "special report" with facts to back up his salcious claims about the high school being infested with all kinds of heroin. Maybe the Councilman can address what "he unearthed" and what the Police Chief "doesn't know" because to go on record with these claims, he MUST HAVE SOME CONCRETE PROOF because if not, he has set himself up for a lawsuit and dismissal from office. I wounder what Sam is hiding and covering-up? I can't wait to hear!
slanderandlibel February 13, 2012 at 01:37 PM
I am curious to see what Smoking Gun Cianfarini has up his sleeve because to call a High School "Heroin High" when random drug testing shows that not one student failed a test for heroin, is slanderous. If Councilman Sam cannot back up his claims with proof, how can anyone trust this guy? He's attacking our students without proof, what's next, the senior citizens? I sure hope this guy can unviel some facts, videotape, or a report to substantiate his claims or he should be relieved of his duties by our Mayor. Speaking of the Mayor and ex-State Trooper, why hasn't he come out and issued a statement sticking-up for West Deptford High School? Why hasn't he admonished the Councilman for his comments publically? What kind of cover-up is going on in West Deptford? What kind of back-door dealings are going on in these "closed sessions?" Thank God someone had the courage to no longer allow Sam and Ray to say these horrible things behind closed doors!
slanderandlibel February 13, 2012 at 01:40 PM
Surely, Councilman Cianfarini has some kind of concrete proof or video of heroin abuse in the high school because if not, than he should be forced to resign by Mayor Chintall. We cannot have a Councilman making false claims with no support to back up these claims. I can't wait for the Councilman's special report on "heroin Abuse" in the high school during his next meeting.
WDNeedsHelp February 13, 2012 at 04:46 PM
To all you "bury your heads in the sand" crowd, let me tell you I am a product of the WD School system. I attended WDHS and the drug problem in the 80's was rampant. Students were drinking in the cars in the parking lots, smoking pot in the lavs and snorting coke off their notebooks in class. What did the teachers and administration do about it then.... NOTHING just as I suspect is being done now. Lets sweep everything under the rug and hope no one in the public notices. We'll Committeeman Cianfarini noticed and spoke up in DEFENSE of your kids. And you freakin morons sit there and attack him for purely political reasons. You freaks all make me sick...Go back and waste your time licking Gerry Whites boots and leave WD to the adults, we got it now.
Bryan Littel (Editor) February 13, 2012 at 07:39 PM
Rather than go by hearsay, I've gone by what committeeman Cianfarini has said he stated in the meeting, which is that he referenced the term as being out there and unacceptable.
Another voice February 13, 2012 at 08:05 PM
Thanks. That's what I surmised. I am completely o.k. with someone who is tasked with the duty of governing our town to ask hard/ugly questions in order to fix any perceived issues, whether they eventually prove true or untrue. These words were meant for those in governance positions, not the public. And that is where they should have stayed. For me, this continues to be a non-issue.
sandie February 13, 2012 at 10:25 PM
Are any of you foaming at the mouth types even reading what Bryan wrote a few comments back. I really doubt it and you have reached the level of just being stupid.
krystalmeth February 13, 2012 at 10:33 PM
4 all u idiots on here keep up the stupid and moronic comments.need a good chuckle once in a while.
Proud D February 14, 2012 at 01:32 AM
I read what Bryan wrote. He's going by what Sam told him. Obviously Bryan doesn't know exactly what was said because there.


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