Friday, March 4, 2016

Brooklawn school board officials accused of wrongful firing, defamation and Sunshine violations.


Update: Settlement reported in subsequent article here.

In February 2016, the Brooklawn (Camden County) Board of Education was voluntarily dismissed from a school maintenance man's 2015 lawsuit that accused the Board's former president and the school district's superintendent of orchestrating a plan to fire him without cause.  The lawsuit also alleged that the Board violated the Open Public Meetings Act and that the former Board president fabricated a story about the custodian being a thief and caused that story to be circulated around the school system by the maintenance man's daughter's classmate.

In his lawsuit, Ryan Kincaid said that on June 12, 2014 Superintendent Dr. John Kellmayer "illegally searched [Kincaid's] backpack" without probable cause and without Kincaid being present or having granted his permission.  He claimed that later that day, he and his union representative were called to Kellmayer's office where Kincaid consented a Kellmayer's request to search the backpack.  According to Kincaid, the search came up empty.

Kincaid asserts that Kellmayer, along with former Board President Bruce Darrow, "orchestrated a plan to wrongfully terminate [him] for reasons that were willful, wanton and in bad faith."  According to Kincaid, Kellmayer and Darrow realized that they "could not use theft as a reason to terminate" him so "they devised the scheme of [his] alleged excessive use of the Internet as the reason for the termination."

When he was served with a Rice Notice, Kincaid said that he opted to have his disciplinary hearing held in public rather than in closed or executive session.  He claimed that despite his election, he was only allowed to make a statement in public after which the Board went into closed session.

Kincaid also accused Darrow of being the source of a false rumor that Kincaid was fired for stealing laptops and notebook computers.  He said that on December 19, 2014, his daughter was approached by two girls on the playground and informed that a another girl had been telling all the other children at her school that Kincaid was a thief.  A subsequent investigation allegedly showed that "the source of the false statement was attributed to the Board's president, Bruce Darrow."