Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Why New Jersey Still Needs Tenure Reform

New Jersey School Boards Association reports on an important case that will tell us much about how well the state's tenure reform system works. In Bound Brook vs. Ciripompa, the first to reach the level of a State Supreme Court appeal, the Bound Brook Board of Education filed tenure charges against  a high school math teacher  because he, according to NJSBA, violated the district’s "acceptable computer-use policy when administrators learned that he stored pictures of nude women on his district-issued iPad," made "inappropriate sexual comments" towards several female staff members, purchased flowers and had students deliver them to female staff members, and made female staff members uncomfortable,
Also during the hearing, the superintendent testified that a staff member forwarded Ciripompa’s “Twitter” page to the superintendent, which led to the discovery of additional nude pictures and disclosed that many of the photos were sent during working hours. Some of the nude photos were of women, while others were of Ciripompa himself. The review of Ciripompa’s district email account also revealed numerous emails of a sexually explicit nature.
During defense testimony, a psychologist testified that Ciripompa "was not pathological," although the doctor did not administer any tests.  "In testifying on his own behalf," notes NJSBA, "Ciripompa did not refute any of the allegations made by district employees."

The arbiter ruled that none of these offenses precluded Ciripompa from returning to the classroom and dismissed the tenure charges.

Bound Brook has appealed the ruling.to the State Supreme Court. One of the concerns with TEACHNJ (the tenure and teacher evaluation reform law) is that administrative judges used to hear tenure cases, but now arbiters do. Often arbiters come from labor backgrounds and don't necessarily understand school law. NJSBA says it will monitor the case and keep board members apprised of outcomes.

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