Kelly Mascio

Mullica Township kindergarten teacher Kelly Mascio, who was suspended after she found that two 5-year-olds had engaged in sexual play in a classroom bathroom, and promptly reported the incident.

MULLICA TOWNSHIP — Kelly Mascio has been reinstated as a kindergarten teacher in the township school district after a meeting with Superintendent Brenda Harring-Marro last week, a teachers union representative said.

“We are absolutely and positively satisfied that Kelly has been restored into her original kindergarten placement,” said Mullica Township Education Association President Barbara Rheault. “While this situation should never have gotten so completely out of hand, we hope that our administration and Board of Education learns from this experience and never again make such costly, community-rending decisions.”

Mascio, who has not returned calls for comment, had been suspended since Sept. 30, when two 5-year-olds came out of a classroom bathroom together and said they had engaged in sex play. She reported the incident and was immediately suspended with pay. When tenure charges brought by Harring-Marro were certified by the Board of Education in late February, her suspension became unpaid.

In late June, a state arbitrator failed to uphold the tenure charges against Mascio, saying she was guilty only of a brief lapse in attention and that did not constitute a reason for loss of tenure and dismissal. Instead he issued her a 10-day unpaid suspension and ordered the district to repay her all back salary and benefits minus the 10 days.

The district paid its attorney, Will Donio of the law firm Cooper Levenson, about $40,000 to handle the case against Mascio, according to documents the district released last week in response to an Open Public Records Act request. It also hired a replacement teacher at a salary of about $51,000.

Documents released by the district Monday in response to another OPRA request show Mascio was paid $30,674 from September to December 2013 and $41,845.84 for January to June 2014, for a total of $72,519.84. Most of the 2014 salary was withheld until after the arbitrator’s decision.

Mascio taught only for the first three weeks.

She also received $25,824.98 in medical, dental and prescription benefits, for a total package of wages and benefits totaling $98,194.55.

Community members rallied behind Mascio, putting black and yellow “We Support Kelly” signs on their front lawns in Mullica Township and beyond. Mullica Township teachers took a no-confidence vote in Marro by a majority of 93 percent.

Mascio and MTEA Vice President Jeannine Ingenito met with Harring-Marro on July 2 to discuss Mascio’s return to school, said Rheault, who was in Colorado for a teachers union convention at the time.

Harring-Marro has said she will reach out to members of the community and district in an attempt to heal relationships going forward.

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