SAYREVILLE — A former Sayreville school teacher is suing the school district and an elementary school principal alleging that her civil rights were violated when her contract was not renewed.
Andrea Roman, who taught at Emma L. Arleth Elementary School, filed a lawsuit Feb. 23 in New Brunswick State Superior Court against the school board, Arleth School principal Robert Preston , and others.
Sayreville has not filed an official court response to the lawsuit.
Roman was hired in September 2018 and worked as a second-grade substitute teacher at Arleth until June 2019, according to the lawsuit.
She was rehired for the 2019-2020 school year as a general education teacher assigned to an extractable resources (ROP) or special education class and was rehired again for the 2020-2021 school year.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the district transitioned to remote learning. In-person learning resumed around November 2020, with hybrid distance and live courses.
According to the lawsuit, Roman returned to her POR class in Arleth and from November 2020 to December 2020 she was the only teacher physically present in the POR class although under state law a certified education instructor. specialist be required to be present, the lawsuit said.
Roman reported the alleged violation to the Sayreville Education Association union representative for Arleth, who said his concerns were forwarded to the president of the teachers’ union, a protected conduct under the New Jersey Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA), indicates the trial.
The lawsuit alleges that whenever this and other concerns were conveyed to the director, Preston told Roman and others to “make it work.”
In another incident, Roman objected that the school district was not following Center for Disease Control guidelines for contact tracing and notifying students and parents of potential COVID exposures, according to the suit.
Roman took his complaints directly to Preston, who reportedly said he was “unaware of the situation” and “dismissively” told Roman that everything was “fine” and that there was ” nothing to worry about,” according to the lawsuit.
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In April 2021, Roman tested positive for COVID and experienced complications. His doctor advised him to seek treatment at the emergency room.
According to the lawsuit, Preston received an email about the severity of his condition with a doctor’s note attached.
While Roman was still hospitalized, according to the suit, Preston asked if instead of taking sick leave, if she could work remotely, which she was unable to do.
Roman was cleared to return to work on April 26, 2021, but on or around May 7, 2021, Preston told him his contract would not be renewed for the coming year, according to the lawsuit.
Roman “never received formal or informal counseling for any perceived deficiency in his job performance” and “received no lawful, non-retaliatory, non-discriminatory justification for the decision not to renew his employment,” the lawsuit charges. .
Roman’s termination “was motivated by flagrant retaliation” for his conduct protected by CEPA, the lawsuit says, adding that the non-renewal decision “was gratuitous, intentional and occurred with real malice.”
The lawsuit further alleges that Roman’s use of earned sick leave to recover from COVID was a “reasonable accommodation for his temporary disability” and that the decision to terminate Roman’s employment was “reasoned in whole or in part by the plaintiff’s request for reasonable accommodation for her temporary incapacity”. disability.”
Susan Loyer covers Middlesex County and more for MyCentralJersey.com. To get unlimited access to his work, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.