New Jersey Teacher Fired for Alleged Unprofessional Conduct
A New Jersey middle school science teacher from Gloucester County was recently fired after allegedly engaging in what has been referred to as “unprofessional” conduct. In a letter sent by the Pitman Middle School superintendent, the teacher’s actions were described as “unprofessional actions towards some students.” However, additional details about the specific conduct were not disclosed. The superintendent further explained that the school district notified the authorities and conducted an investigation, but Pitman Police Chief Daniel McAteer stated that it is department policy not to confirm or deny the existence of investigations currently being conducted by the office. Moreover, there was no information regarding whether the Division of Child Protection and Permanency (“DCP&P”), formerly known as the Division of Youth and Family Services (“DYFS”), conducted an investigation.
In this teacher’s case, DCP&P could have engaged in an investigation in addition to the school’s internal investigation due to New Jersey’s broad definition of “parent or guardian” set forth in the state’s child welfare laws. According to N.J.S.A. 9:6-8.21(a), “parent or guardian” means any natural parent, adoptive parent, resource family parent, stepparent, paramour of a parent, or any person who has assumed responsibility for the care, custody, or control of a child or upon whom there is a legal duty for such care and also includes a teacher, employee, or volunteer, whether compensated or uncompensated, of an institution who is responsible for the child’s welfare and any other staff person of an institution regardless of whether the person is responsible for the care or supervision of the child. In cases where school employees such as teachers are accused of child abuse or neglect, the Institutional Abuse Investigation Unit (IAIU) of child protective services will conduct an investigation to determine whether any child abuse or neglect, as defined in Title 9, occurred and, if so, whether the investigative finding should be “substantiated” or “established.”
If you have been accused of child abuse or neglect while acting in the capacity of a teacher, coach, daycare employee, bus driver, or any other capacity, you probably have a lot of questions. At the outset, it is important to know that your case will be assigned to one of four IAIU offices: Northern IAIU at 100 Hamilton Plaza, 9th Floor, Paterson, NJ 07505; Metro IAIU at 2 Gateway Plaza, 8th floor Newark, NJ 07102; Central IAIU 3131 Princeton Pike, Bldg. 6, Suite 112, Lawrenceville, NJ 08648; and Southern IAIU 275 North Delsea Drive, U.S. Route 47, Vineland, NJ 08360.
Before your meet with an IAIU investigator, you should contact the experienced team of child abuse and neglect defense attorneys at the Tormey Law Firm to learn about your rights and what to do during the investigation. We are available around the clock and are ready to guide you through your IAIU investigation. Call us today for a free consultation.