HADDON TWP., N.J. – State Education Commissioner Chris Cerf has overturned a school board decision to fire a high school athletic director who was caught on camera placing dog waste on his ex-wife’s car in the school parking lot.
Alan Carr, of Haddon Township High School, was fired last year after he admitted his actions to school authorities, reports the Courier-Post.
Carr and his ex-wife, also a teacher at the school, had been recently divorced prior to the incident.
The Haddon Township Board of Education determined that Carr’s behavior violated the district’s anti-bullying policy and warranted dismissal from his tenured position, according to the news site. An administrative law judge upheld the decision in April, stating “[Carr’s] ability to serve as a proper example for students has been severely compromised.”
But Commissioner Cerf reversed the decision last week, arguing the punishment outweighed the crime.
“Although reprehensible, [Carr’s actions] were not as egregious as the conduct that has been reported in some prior cases relating to teacher termination,” said Cerf. He also claimed the “highly improper” incident “stemmed from a domestic incident not associated with [Carr’s] school duties.”
Instead, Cerf recommended Carr forfeit 120 days of pay, forego a future salary increase and be suspended for an additional six months without pay.
According to court records, Carr was picking up trash when he said the decision to put the dog feces on the windshield of his ex-wife’s car “came over him,” reports the news site.
This was not the first time Carr engaged in inappropriate behavior on school grounds. A few months prior, Carr lied to school administrators about putting an unsettling newspaper article in his wife’s mailbox, according to the news report.
Cerf’s decision is clearly wrong. Does it really matter of Carr’s actions were “as egregious” as actions committed by other teachers who had been fired? His actions set a rotten example for the students of his district. The message for students now is that you can commit hideous acts at work and still be reinstated.
Unfortunately many of those students will learn otherwise – perhaps the hard way – when they go to work in the private sector, where there may no strong unions around to defend employees who commit inexcusable acts.
Carr has been employed by the district since 1974, serving as athletic director for the past 23 years. State pension records list his salary as $111,000 during the 2011-12 school year.
By Ashleigh Costello at EAGnews.org