A tenured New Jersey teacher is out of a job following accusations that he made angry statements about his gun ownership.
Former Tamaques Elementary School teacher, Frank Fuzy, has filed a federal lawsuit against the Board of Education in response, claiming false and defamatory statements made against him and discrimination over his gun ownership,
A state arbitrator ruled in favor of the Westfield School District, claiming it was justified in firing Fuzy who allegedly created an atmosphere of fear at the school, according to My Central Jersey.
Three of six tenure charges brought against the former teacher last December were upheld by state Department of Education arbitrator Joyce Klein, including that he allegedly threw sticky notes at a student as well as made threatening comments about his firearms.
“Mr. Fuzy has not been fully successful at controlling his temper with students, teachers and other staff,” Klein wrote in the decision issued Monday. “As a result, Mr. Fuzy’s conduct has led to calling students ‘stupid,’ inappropriately reducing students to tears; and most importantly discussing his height, weight and guns in a threatening manner in a conversation where he was stressed and angry.”
Despite the district’s claim of threats, Fuzy was never arrested or disciplined before.
Fuzy fired back with a lawsuit, claiming the tenure charges were “a grab bag of old charges, non-charges and unsubstantiated…gossip.”
“Defendants have shamelessly and recklessly used notorious mass shootings to whip up anti-gun owner animus against plaintiff,” the fired teacher’s complaint read. “This impermissible animus has been a substantial motivating factor in the wrongful treatment of plaintiff.”
The actions by the school district “are in violation of and in retaliation for” exercising his “right to bear arms,” the lawsuit claimed.
Apparently, Fuzy, who was named the New Jersey Agricultural Society’s Teacher of the Year in 2013, was targeted for making the statement, “I am 5-10. I’m 210 pounds. I do own firearms and many people take that the wrong way.”
“Mr. Fuzy, through his comments and actions has created an atmosphere where ‘other staff members are intimidated and fearful of imminent harm,’” Klein said in her ruling.
“Dr. Dolan acknowledged that Mr. Fuzy had previously posted statements and pictures about guns on social media and there was no reason to discuss these postings with him because it was his right to make such postings about his hobby regarding guns,” Klein said, referring to the district’s superintendent, Margaret Dolan, who became aware of Fuzy’s social media posts but did not discuss them with him.
“It became very, very apparent in the conversations with staff members both paraprofessionals and teachers that there were a number of teachers who felt unsafe in Tamaques School specifically because of Mr. Fuzy,” Dolan said. “They went — some of them went out of their way not to interact with him. Others made sure they did their work at home so they weren’t in the building outside of school hours.”
Fuzy’s lawsuit claimed the district discriminated against him because of his gender and age.
“Plaintiff was only the second male teacher ever hired in Westfield,” the lawsuit claimed. “Rather than being dependable, he was called stubborn; rather than being known as strong, he was described as threatening and overbearing; rather than being called male, he was called toxic.”
He also accused the union, which “joined in a conspiracy” with the school district to violate his rights, of not representing him in the dispute. He alleged that comments about him and the number of guns he owned were false and “had the intended effect of creating a hysterical fear of (Fuzy) and rendered him an outcast and scapegoat.”
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