Special Education

N.J. Teacher Who Allegedly Bullied Special-Needs Student Could Lose Tenure

By Rita Giordano, The Philadelphia Inquirer (MCT) — December 08, 2011 1 min read

A Gloucester County teacher who was videotaped while allegedly bullying a special-needs student could be on the way to losing tenure.

The Gloucester County Special Services Board of Education voted this week to certify tenure charges against the teacher, identified as Steven Roth. He was teaching at the Bankbridge Regional School in Sewell at the time.

“In accordance with New Jersey law, the charges will now be forwarded to the New Jersey acting commissioner of education,” according to a statement issued by the board.

The teacher, who had been on paid administrative leave, was put on unpaid leave Tuesday for up to 120 days pending state action, according to Michael Dicken, district superintendent.

Once the state receives the charges from the district, the teacher has 15 days to respond, state Education Department spokesman Richard Vespucci said.

The case then will be referred for a fact-finding review by a state administrative law judge. Acting Education Commissioner Christopher Cerf will have 45 days from the filing of the judge’s findings to render a decision, the spokesman said.

The 15-year-old special-needs student secretly made a cellphone recording of the teacher allegedly taunting and berating him.

The boy’s mother, Joyce Artuz of West Deptford, said she was skeptical when her son, who she said has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and emotional problems, complained about the teacher bullying him. However, she said that if the teacher bothered him, he had her permission to record it.

Despite the board’s vote, Artuz said she was displeased that the district appeared to be treating the matter as an isolated incident.

“There were other children in the class. You could see it on video,” she said. The family wants to see cameras put in classrooms, especially special-education classes, she said.

Artuz said she had moved her son out of the special-services school.

“My son is really going through a rough time. He’s had threats. It’s been awful,” she said.

“He feels he has been punished for doing the right thing,” she said.

Among the approximately 25 people whose tenure charges have been referred to the state this year, nine were teachers who the commissioner ruled should be dismissed, according to state records.

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Copyright (c) 2011, The Philadelphia Inquirer. Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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