‘Creepy’ NJ teacher keeps job after being accused of touching student’s breast
BARNEGAT — An Ocean County teacher and high school wrestling coach is keeping his job even after being accused of touching a 12-year-old girl's breasts and being "creepy" with other female students.
A state-appointed arbitrator last month dismissed the tenure charges against Kevin Karp, 35, and ordered the district to return him to his job.
The tenure charges were filed under the state's Teacher Effectiveness and Accountability for the Children of New Jersey, or TeachNJ, a 2012 reform measure signed by Gov. Chris Christie for the purpose of making it easier to fire bad teachers.
But the arbitrator in this case scuttled officials' attempt to fire Karp because of problems with the way the district presented its case.
New Jersey 101.5 is reporting details of these charges for the first time.
According to the ruling, schools Superintendent Karen Wood reportedly contacted police and prosecutors about the allegations against Karp. But court records show he has not been charged with any crime.
Among the district's allegations against Karp, who teaches computer classes in the district:
— He repeatedly brushed up against the breasts of a 12-year-old student in his class, even times when she "attempted to move back in her seat to avoid contact."
— Making "cat calls" to that same student when she was in the hallway.
— Another student said he made her "uncomfortable by touching her exposed bra strap and on another occasion brushed up against her shoulders in class" and "touched her hair and complimented her," according to the district's complaint.
— That same girl said Karp "made creepy comments about taking off sweaters and sweatshirts" and that he was "very touchy to her" and other girls.
— He "improperly" stared at a female wrestler, which the male wrestlers all noticed and discussed.
— Another female student said he "made a comment" about her holding hands with another girl and said "it was OK to try new things over Spring Break."
Arbitrator Edmund Gerber ruled that the district did not make its case to satisfy state statues requirements and relied on "double hearsay."
Among the missteps, Gerber said the district relied on emails, didn't provide signed statements from students and parents, did not provide specific dates or even a year as to when the incidents are said to have occurred.
The female wrestler who Karp allegedly leered at wasn't even interviewed by school officials, the arbitrator said.
Some of the allegations, including the one about the cat calls, were "so vague as to be meaningless," Gerber said.
"What exactly was said?" Gerber asked, referring to the alleged cat calls. "Was this a whistle?"
Attorneys for Karp and for the school district did not return calls for comment Friday. It was not clear whether the district intended to file new charges against Karp.
The website Rate My Teachers, which allows anonymous users who claim to be students to review their teachers, has mostly positive feedback for Karp.
One review posted in February defends Karp against unspecified allegations:
I do not understand that when a student is angry with a teacher it amazes me what a person will make up.! and get others involved into their lies to prove themselves .....just to hurt a great person and a super coach they think all the students do not know what is going on ..we here the lies.. we also here about the big payday their going to have and the car they are going to buy ... lies all lies!! take a good look at themselves and the people who are teaching them this! MR.Karp AAA+++
A negative review posted in January says he "acts like a kid" and "cares more about haveing 'friends' with students than teaching and makes unnecessary coments,He really is a pervert."
Karp has taught in the district for seven years and earns $51,300, pension records show.
Sergio Bichao contributed to this report.
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