Newark – A civil lawsuit was filed by three out of four parents who accused two former employees of the Long Branch Public Schools with tying up their children, taping their mouths closed and photographing them in a bathroom last year.
On March 1, of last year, two maintenance workers for the district were working in a boys’ bathroom when two students entered and were allegedly tied up with tape by the two workers. It was reported that those two students left and then returned a short time later with two other students and again were tied up.
The students told their teacher about the incident and stated that they were photographed by the workers. That teacher reported the matter to the principal who informed the Superintendent of Schools, who directed him to call the Long Branch Police Department.
It has been unclear of the exact timeline of events as the school district and law enforcement have not provided all the details. It is clear however, that Long Branch Police, Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office and the Office of Institutional Abuse all conducted separate investigations and determined that no criminal or sexual acts were committed by the employees or the district.
Michael Salvatore, Superintendent of Schools, was asked by a reporter last year if the two workers were “joking around” with the students. The Star Ledger quoted Salvatore as answering; “I’d like to believe it was a joke gone bad and there are consequences to that.”
The two employees were suspended with pay and then in July their contracts were not renewed. It seems that even though they didn’t commit any criminal acts they violated a district regulation or policy. The consequence of their actions resulted in the Board of Education not rehiring them.
Philly.com reported on Monday, that the lawsuit accuses the two “custodians” “play a game” and then “forcibly and violently tied” the students’ hands together with tape. The employees then ordered the “two boys to be quite” and went on to say the two “janitors” gagged the boys’ mouths with more tape.
The website story then stated that two more boys entered the bathroom and ordered their silence and then also tied and gagged them. According to the complaint, the two men then forced the students against the wall and photographed them. “The custodians eventually let the children leave the bathroom only after they had satisfied their sadistic desires,” according to Philly.com
Parents who filed the suit accuse the teacher of ignoring the students’ account of what happened, and faulted the principal for not calling the police in a timely fashion. It also stated that the superintendent allowed the two janitors to go home. The parents also describe the incident in their suit as “a brutal and inhumane abuse of power” that was “inspired by malice or sadism,” according to Philly.com
Parents also stated that the children, 3 out of 4, have suffered pain when they were bound. The parents claim the boys suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, have heightened anxiety and fear, and are unable to sleep normally and now have decreased self-esteem and depression.
“There are no indications that it was sexual in nature,” Monmouth County First Deputy Assistant Prosecutor Rick Incremona had said, following the investigation by the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office. “The Thursday incident was between students and school system employees. It was reported to the administration and they took immediate action, including notifying the police and our office.”
It appears that three out of four parents have different views of what transpired than law enforcement. Many people are demanding more details; however Salvatore stated that he can’t comment on pending litigation.
Several people that The Link News spoke with stated that the two former employees were dedicated and hardworking individuals who are being made into monsters. They hope that the two former employees file counter suits as they being defamed in public.
This is the second big lawsuit filed against the Long Branch Public Schools in the past few years. The district is still fighting a suit filed by a former confidential secretary against the former superintendent of schools.