The following cases have been decided under the new TEACHNJ tenure law. In all cases, the school boards filed to fire the teacher.
MARK BRINGHURST and VINELAND BOARD OF EDUCATION
Decided in November 2012.
In the very first TEACHNJ case, fifth-grade teacher Mark Bringhurst was charged with conduct unbecoming a teacher after being arrested for running naked through an apartment complex parking lot in another town on a dare. He admitted it was not the first time he had done so.
Arbitrator Robert Gifford upheld the charges. Bringhurst, who had been a teacher for 11 years, and was Teacher of the Year in 2011-12 at the Winslow School in Vineland, was dismissed from his job.
CHRISTOPHER LORGE and ATLANTIC CITY BOARD OF EDUCATION
Decided January 2013.
Atlantic City High School music teacher Christopher Lorge was charged with conduct unbecoming a teacher for throwing a paperback music book at a student who was using her phone and wearing earphones during class. Students wear headphones in class as part of the lesson and said Lorge would sometimes throw pencils or erasers at them to get their attention.
Arbitrator Melissa Biren, citing Lorge’s 10-year term at the school with no prior disciplinary charges, suspended Lorge without pay for 120 days and ordered his salary increase for 2012-13 be withheld.
SARAH HANCOCK and BRIDGETON BOARD OF EDUCATION
Decided April 2013
Teacher Sarah Hancock was charged with unbecoming conduct for allegedly assaulting a student in a school hallway who had been misbehaving.
Arbitrator Timothy Brown, citing testimony, surveillance video and Hancock’s 22-year unblemished career in the district, imposed a 120-day unpaid suspension.
NICHOLAS BROWN and BRIDGETON BOARD OF EDUCATION
Decided April 2013
Track coach Nicholas Brown was charged with unbecoming conduct for using profanity and making inappropriate comments to students, and visiting pornography sites on his school-issued computer.
Arbitrator Gerard Restaino ruled Brown had “crossed the line” more than once and should be dismissed.
FRANK FLOOD and CUMBERLAND COUNTY TECHNICAL EDUCATION CENTER
Decided July 2013
Carpentry teacher Frank Flood was charged with unbecoming conduct for having had physical contact with a student. This was the third time an incident had occurred with a student since 2004. Flood had previously been suspended in 2012.
Arbitrator Timothy Brown ruled that “progressive discipline of (Flood) had run its course and discharge was warranted.”
MICHAEL McCAUSLAND and BUENA REGIONAL BOARD OF EDUCATION
Decided August 2013.
Teacher Michael McCausland was charged with unbecoming conduct for taping a play rehearsal while under instructions not to participate in school theater performances, and allowing discussion in class of the arrest of a student on a school trip. He had previously been on suspension for another unidentified incident.
Arbitrator Daniel Brent criticized the district for inadequately investigating the incidents before filing tenure charges. He ruled McCausland should be suspended for the entire 2013-14 school year without pay. The terms of his previous settlement agreement will apply for the 2014-15 school year.
MARK BOYLE and PITTSGROVE TOWNSHIP BOARD OF EDUCATION
Decided December 2013
Middle school teacher and high school coach Mark Boyle was charged with unbecoming conduct for alleged inappropriate behavior with female students he coached. He had worked in the district since 1989-90, had children in the district and on athletic teams, and had known some team members and their parents for years.
Arbitrator Scott Buchheit ruled that while Boyle had used poor judgement in some of his interactions with the students, there was no sexual intent, some alleged incidents were taken out of context by the district and Boyle was not a threat to students. He was suspended without pay from August 2013 through Jan. 1, 2014.
REGINA DWOZAR and ATLANTIC CITY BOARD OF EDUCATION
Decided February 2104
Atlantic City High School East Campus English teacher Regina Dwozar was charged with multiple charges of unbecoming conduct for her behavior with students, having contact with students outside of class, and sending inappropriate and/or threatening emails to another staff member.
Arbitrator Daniel F. Brent ruled that some of the charges were unsubstantiated, and the teacher had admitted behavioral lapses due to personal issues. He ruled she be suspended for the entire 2013-14 school year, get therapy and be evaluated by a psychologist to determine her fitness to return to work in September 2014. She is to get no salary increase for 2014-15.