One of the newest teachers at Maplewood Middle School apparently has a past that some want to know about.

Wayne Calandriello, a physical education teacher in the district since 2001, just joined MMS this year. And in their effort to find out more about him, many students and parents have been researching him online.

What they found, and we pursued, is interesting to say the least. Not only did Calandriello serve a 120-day suspension last year for a handful of misdeeds, but he had been fired from a previous job for many of the same alleged infractions.

And as a tenured teacher, he was apparently protected from being fired because of the lengthy review process that is required under the tenure laws. These laws can make it all but impossible to fire teachers the district deems not up to the job.

Editor's note: All of the information in this story comes from public records available online from government agencies.

Here’s what happened:

In 2010 and 2011, the school district filed what it alleged were 13 charges of unbecoming conduct and other alleged misbehavior by Calandriello, which included failing to supervise students and failing to inform the district that he had been dismissed from a previous job in Monmouth County.

That previous job was with the Monmouth County Department of Corrections as a youth instructor. According to state records, he was dismissed from that position on June 1, 2000, after an administrative law judge review of the case found that Calandriello had engaged in “tardiness, leaving work early unauthorized, unauthorized absence, failure to meet requirements of job, abuse of sick leave, insubordination, falsification, vending, soliciting, or collecting money for personal business financial transactions on County property during regular work hours and conduct unbecoming a public employee.

The list of more recent claims from the South Orange-Maplewood School District, which also included an apparent arrest for shoplifting during school hours, according to state records is below:

        Charge 1: Inappropriate communication and/or contact with a student;
        Charge 2: Failure to properly supervise his students on Jan. 7, 2010        
        Charge 3: Failure to take any action in response to a fight between                    students during a third period  study hall on January 7, 2010;
Charge 4: Failure to report a student fight that occurred during a third period study hall on January 7, 2010;
Charge 5: Misuse of instructional time during a third period  study hall on January 7, 2010; 
Charge 6: Failure to report for duty on April 15, 2011;
Charge 7: Failure to notify the substitute service on April 15, 2011;
Charge 8: Misrepresentation regarding reason for April 15, 2011 absence;
Charge 9: Misrepresentation regarding notification of substitute service for April 15, 2011 absence;
Charge 10: Arrest for shoplifting on April 15, 2011;
Charge 11: Arrest for shoplifting adult magazines on April 15, 2011;
Charge 12: Failure to disclose dismissal from employment with Monmouth County Youth Service; and Charge 13: Other just cause.

As required under the state tenure statute, the district filed a claim for Calandriello’s dismissal with the state, a claim that, by law, must go before an administrative law judge. The ALJ heard the case and ruled that Calandriello had acted improperly in some cases, but not others.

A state education commissioner review of the report stated:

The ALJ found …  that respondent engaged in conduct unbecoming when he failed to appropriately supervise his students during a study hall on January 7, 2010, leading to misuse of instructional time and the use of forbidden electronic devices by students;  the evidence does not, however, support the Board’s contention of failure to respond to or report a student fight because the nature of the 2010 incident shown on videotape can best be characterized as teasing rather than fighting;  at the time of the 2010 incident, respondent received only a written reprimand and the conduct is no more egregious two years later; respondent misrepresented the reason for his April 15, 2011 absence from school as well as his efforts to contact the substitution service, and this behavior constituted conduct unbecoming; respondent’s failure to report for duty on that day – and failure to give timely notice that he would be absent – also constitute conduct unbecoming a teacher;  the credibility of the only witness presented by the Board in support of the shoplifting charge was profoundly deficient, and his testimony was irrational and lacked internal consistency; accordingly, the Board failed to prove that respondent committed a shoplifting offense. The ALJ concluded that respondent was guilty of conduct unbecoming, but that the circumstances of the case do not warrant dismissal from his tenured position. 

The ALJ recommended that Calandriello be suspended for 120 days. The school district appealed that decision to the state education commissioner, which also reviewed the case and also denied the request to fire Calandriello, upholding the 120-day suspension. Calandriello served that suspension during the fall of 2012, according to school district agenda records.

During that time, Calandriello was not paid a portion of his salary, which state records indicate was more than $79,000 in 2009, the last year for which records were available.

Calandriello declined comment to, referring a request to his attorney, who did not return multiple calls.

At issue for many parents and students is not only that Calandriello was hired given his past dismissal record, but that he is still on the job when the district apparently had ample reason to fire him and tried.

MMS Principal Jeffrey Truppo declined comment on the situation, while Superintendent Brian Osborne issued this statement to

Thank you for your inquiry regarding one of our teachers, Mr. Wayne Calandriello. Pursuant to New Jersey law, we are prohibited from revealing evaluative information about our teaching staff. In Mr. Calandriello’s case, however, a public document exists online that describes a tenure charge hearing that was initiated against Mr. Calandriello by this school district.  (A tenure charge hearing is brought against a tenured staff member when the school district seeks to either dismiss or reduce the salary of that staff member.)

The copy of the tenure charge matter that is available online against Mr. Calandriello speaks for itself.  I am constrained to uphold the confidentiality laws in response to your other inquiries. I am sorry that I cannot offer more specific information.  

But Calandriello is not the only teacher deemed unfit whom the district has been unable to fire because of tenure protection.

Chandler Dennis, a physics teacher at Columbia High School, was cited for what was described as inappropriate behavior with a female student in 2007.

In a similar claim, according to records, seeking to remove Dennis, the school district accused Dennis of 10 counts of alleged inappropriate behavior. Those included claims that he; allegedly invited the student on a date to a New York City racetrack; offered the student Hershey’s Kisses “in lieu of an actual kiss”; told her she liked her hair down, was jealous when she was with her boyfriend, and couldn’t wait until she turned 18; gave her a birthday card and a gift certificate to a nail salon; and established an email account for her without her knowledge.

As in the Calandriello case, the claims against Dennis went before an administrative law judge, who determined only two of the claims were valid: the birthday gift and email account, and ruled Dennis should serve a 70-day suspension.

Again, the board appealed the decision to the state education commissioner, who agreed with the ALJ decision and charges, but extended the punishment to a 120-day suspension, which Dennis served in 2008, losing a portion of his salary, which state records indicate was more than $85,000 in 2009.

In its appeal, the district claimed that the ALJ “made multiple erroneous legal conclusions to dismiss proven tenure charges because – by arbitrarily analyzing the charges individually rather than in the aggregate – he failed to recognize that each of the charges was part of a larger pattern of suggestive comments, interactions and behaviors that respondent engaged in while attempting to exploit his teacher/student relationship with [the student]” The district also argued that “such a clear pattern of conduct placed [the student] in a position of grave danger.”

Requests for comment to Dennis via email and phone went unanswered.


Anonymous said...

Our tenure system at work. Simply outrageous. If I committed any of these acts in the workplace I would be fired without recourse.
That these people are allowed to stay in direct contact with our children is simply indefensible...

Anonymous said...

He is my teacher and frequently is irresponsible in his actions, including not stopping fights. FIRE HIM!

Anonymous said...

He is my teacher as well and is very irresponsible. When we are in the locker room changing kids go insane and jump on top of the lockers, throw food and clothing items, scream, and today i got picked up and thrown into the lost and found cart and driven down the hallway and he did nothing to stop these actions.

Anonymous said...

Don't believe you but this is still out of control

Anonymous said...

its true, I also am his student an I witnessed that