Tuesday, August 20, 2013

North Bergen in-house lawyer with questionable work responsibilities identified.

On page 21 of his report, June 25, 2013 report on "Legal Fees Paid by New Jersey Local Governments," Comptroller A. Matthew Boxer wrote:
When we initially asked the [North Bergen] Township Attorney and the Township Administrator about the job duties of the remaining in-house attorney (the “In-House Attorney”), we were informed that he was paid a salary of $18,807 in FY 2011. They stated that they were unsure if he was North Bergen’s Alcohol Beverage Control Board Attorney or its Tenant Advocate. Following our interviews and a follow-up document request, North Bergen advised us that they commenced an internal review to determine whether he was actually performing any job duties for North Bergen.

Immediately after North Bergen commenced its review and requested information from the In-House Attorney regarding his job duties, he submitted a letter resigning from his position. North Bergen subsequently asserted to us that he had received a salary for unknown job duties without the consent of any Township officials. As a result, North Bergen advised us that it would be referring the matter to the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office to determine whether any criminal violations had been committed by the In-House Attorney.
Yet, the Comptroller's report did not name the In-House Attorney and I could not find any media or other reports that named him or her.  So, I submitted an OPRA request for the In-House Attorney's letter of resignation.

The North Bergen custodian of records returned the letter, click here, which identifies the In-House Attorney as Eric J. Bal of 1435 46th Street, North Bergen.  In the letter, he identifies himself as North Bergen's Housing Attorney.

Friday, August 16, 2013

New Jersey reprimands Cherry Hill psychologist and fines him $500.

On February 14, 2013, the New Jersey Board of Psychological Examiners reprimanded Ronald Gruen, Ed.D., of Cherry Hill, for "making a written submission to a court [which] constituted a violation of confidentiality . . . without the knowledge and consent" of a former patient, identified only by the initials "S.S."

Gruen accepted the reprimand and agreed to pay a $500 civil penalty in lieu of having formal charges filed against him.  The letter from the State and Gruen's statement of acceptance are on-line here.

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.