Friday, August 2, 2013

Gloucester County high school teacher resigns. Claims traumatic brain injury caused alleged misconduct with female students.

By letter of June 27, 2013, a Williamstown High School Special Needs teacher resigned in exchange for his employer, the Monroe Township School District, agreeing to withdraw tenure charges against him and to provide him with a "generic letter of recommendation."  According to filed documents, the teacher had been suspended from his position, with pay, since March 6, 2013.

In his resignation letter, teacher John C. Coulton, who reportedly earned $83,620 in 2012 and was enrolled in the pension plan in 1992, said that he had consulted with a lawyer and tendered his resignation to avoid tenure charges being presented at a Monroe Township Board of Education meeting scheduled for the evening of June 27, 2013.

The tenure charge statement report charged Coulton with six questionable incidents involving female students.  In the first charge, Coulton allegedly asked a student in March 2009 if she would like "to go to dinner with him with candle light and soft music in the background." This incident resulted in a meeting with board officials who told Coulton that "his conduct is not appropriate behavior."

In the second charge, Coulton allegedly asked a female student in 2012 why she wasn't in the football field house "giving head" to the players and coaches.  Coulton explained that he actually told the student to "give them heck."

The third charges involved a March 5, 2013 incident in which Coulton allegedly texted profanity to female student repeatedly because she had forgotten his birthday.  The student reported to school officials that Coulton "gave her gifts such as gift cards, brought her snacks, sent her text messages early in the morning and late at night, invited her to his home, and questioned her about having a boyfriend."

In the fourth charge, Coulton allegedly texted a female student since she was a freshman.  Coulton allegedly asked her to "dog sit at his house" and after she ignored him he allegedly told her that "he would pay her and she could use his pool."

The fifth count charged Coulton with "always text[ing] the girls on the basketball team" and the sixth count charged Coulton with giving one girl two $50 gift cards and another a cell phone.

In his response to the charges, Coulton, through Mount Laurel attorney Keith Waldman, said that he was a "valued employee . . . for ten years" and that the charges were "completely undermined by the fact that the Board and its administrators chose to do nothing with the allegation for four years."  He attributed the later incidents to a December 7, 2012 on the job injury that caused a "very serious concussion" when he was assaulted by a parent at a school function held at the Rowan Football Field."  He claimed that a "well-documented symptom of traumatic brain injury and post-concussion syndrome is loss of inhibitions."  In his response, he threatened to bring a lawsuit under the Americans with Disabilities Act against the school district for refusing to accommodate his disability.

The resignation letter, tenure charges and Coulton's defense are all on-line here.