A disabled second-grade teacher in Paterson, N.J., was fired for insubordination and inappropriate behavior last week.
Ron Tuitt uses a motorized wheelchair because of a medical condition that causes his legs to swell. He had been a teacher in the Paterson public school system since 1996.
The removal of his tenure protection was approved by State Education Commissioner Christopher Cerf, and he was fired on April 18.
The state brought 17 charges against Tuitt in the tenure case on March 1. He was accused of urinating into a classroom garbage can, urinating into bottles in front of students who he instructed to close their eyes, and letting students sit in his motorized wheelchair.
Judge Evelyn Marose said in her ruling that Tuitt urinated in a plastic bottle and “on numerous occasions during the 2006–2007 school year, Mr. Tuitt asked his students to close their eyes and keep them closed, without peeking.’’
The judge wrote that a student peeked and “saw Mr. Tuitt put the urine bottle by his pants and saw Mr. Tuitt put his hands in his pants. After Mr. Tuitt told the children they could open their eyes, Mr. Tuitt directed D.S. (another student) to take the bottle into which he had urinated, handle first, from Mr. Tuitt’s hands.”
A custodian at the school claims to have witnessed students taking a bottle of urine to the boys’ bathroom.
His behavior was ruled “inappropriate and unprofessional and constitutes conduct unbecoming a teaching staff member," and his tenure was removed.
The judge also heard charges that on Sept. 29, 2009, Tuitt urinated in a trash can in his classroom.
“When Mr. Tuitt exited the classroom, custodian Alva went into the classroom. She saw a substantial amount of urine in the trash can, with spillage on the rim and plastic in the trash can and on the floor surrounding the trash can,” wrote Judge Marose in her ruling. “Mr. Tuitt did not clean the urine prior to exiting the school for the day and did not contact any one about the urine in the classroom to ensure that it was cleaned up.”
In November of 2010, he was placed on administrative leave during which he emailed two parents of students. According to the ruling, he said, “This school year has been ruined because our principal hates my guts and believes that fat, unattractive disabled people should be picked upon and drummed out of teaching dispute a career long record of excellence.”
The judge ruled that “making this statement in an email to a parent is inappropriate and unprofessional and constitutes conduct unbecoming a teaching staff member.”