A New Jersey high school teacher disciplined for drunken behavior is blaming the school for the party, but the school blames the teachers’ union.
Rancocas Valley Regional High School teacher Wilfred Kirkaldy filed a lawsuit against the school last week claiming the school was responsible for an end-of-the-year party at a bar where Kirkaldy was allegedly overserved alcohol.
Another school employee later filed a grievance against Kirkaldy, presumably for his conduct while intoxicated.
What exactly occurred during the incident has been shielded from public view by privacy laws relating to employee grievances which are typically specified in union contracts.
Kirkaldy’s attorney said his client has no memory of the incident and was deprived by the school of the ability to defend himself in the employee disciplinary process, Burlington County Times reports.
In the lawsuit, Kirkaldy, who is listed as an instructional aide, said the party at the bar was “convened by” the school, and “he was overserved with alcohol and/or drugged,” which left him “severely inebriated.”
“As a result of his severe intoxication, Plaintiff has no recollection of any contacts with fellow employees appropriate or inappropriate,” the complaint states.
“After being advised of the incident, Plaintiff was disciplined by defendant without an opportunity to review evidence, appear at a hearing to present a defense or to face his accuser,” the complaint added.
But the school responded that the party was “organized, promoted and attended by members of the teacher’s union [the Rancocas Valley Regional High School Education Association] and [was] not a District sponsored activity.”
In response to an open records request, the school said matters relating to employee grievances are confidential and thus not subjected to sunshine laws.
Attorney Frank P. Cavallo, who represents Rancocas Valley Regional School District, said while the school hasn’t been served yet, “the allegations contained in the Complaint directed at RV are totally false.”
“A letter has been sent to the plaintiff’s attorney demanding that the Complaint be dismissed,” said Cavallo.
However, Kirkaldy has asked for a jury trial. Judge James J. Ferelli has given both sides 45 days to complete pre-trial discovery.