An Atlantic City High School piano teacher was suspended 120 days for throwing a book that hit a student in the head.
The incident occurred at the school on Feb. 16 when teacher Christopher Lorge — a teacher for 10 years in the district — threw a textbook at a female, according to a ruling by the state Department of Education arbitrator. The student, who was not identified, suffered injuries including a laceration.
The district suspended Lorge with pay and started proceedings to have him terminated, but Arbitrator Melissa H. Biren ruled Jan. 4 he should be suspended 120 days instead. He also will not receive the salary increment for the current year.
The Atlantic City Board of Education reinstated Lorge at Monday's meeting. His 2011-12 salary is $73,780.
Superintendent Donna Haye declined to comment on the ruling. She said Lorge will return to work Tuesday.
The ruling stated Lorge admitted to throwing the paperback book because the student was talking on the telephone and wearing earphones instead of the piano headphones she was required to wear.
A subsequent investigation by the district found Lorge had previously thrown a box of tissues and book at the student which did not hit her, the ruling states. The district's investigation reports that when the box of tissues almost hit the student, Lorge said "next time there will be no almost."
The district also said Lorge had thrown objects at other students on more than one occasion, the report states.
In interviews with the district Lorge denied saying "next time there will be no almost" and said he threw objects as a way of getting a student's attention or joking around, according to the ruling.
Biren ruled Lorge did not conduct himself appropriately and his actions displayed a "serious lack of judgment and disregard for the appropriate standard of care expected of a tenured teacher."
But citing Lorge's 10 years in the district without disciplinary action, his remorse for the incident and the fact Lorge did not intend to cause bodily harm, Biren declined to rule for termination.
Marcia Genova, president of the teacher's union, referred questions to Lorge's attorney Keith Waldman, of Mount Laurel, who said they agree with the ruling calling it "well reasoned."
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