He took his pants off; she murdered her husband — More NJ teachers in big trouble
A music teacher who was caught changing his outfit in a room with a student. A woman who was sentenced by a foreign judge to hang for the crime of murdering her husband. And a self-described “monster” who molested little boys. They were among more than a dozen educators and school officials this month who lost their credentials to work in New Jersey schools.
Here are some of the cases.
Sentenced to death
Sheila Kairu, aka Sheila Kabinge, has been sentenced to hang by a judge in Kenya, were she was charged in the slaying of her husband in 2014.
The State Board of Examiners, the body that can revoke or suspend teaching certificates of educators accused or convicted of certain crimes, suspended Kairu’s certificates in elementary, physical science and supervising this month pending the resolution of her case.
But news outlets in Kenya last month reported that Kairu already has been convicted and sentenced.
The woman insisted that she was riding in a car at night with her husband when they were carjacked by kidnappers who took her husband. She fled the scene, she said, after hearing a blast and a car crashing. Authorities’ suspicions were raised because she did not go to check on her husband and did not report the crime to any of the nearby police stations, according to news accounts of the trial.
Caught on camera
A former Clifton public school teacher lost his license after the State Board of Examiners looked at security photographs of him spending hours alone with a female student — and even coming out of the room in shorts after he had gone in wearing pants.
Cody J. Holody had his music-teaching certificates revoked even though an investigation by the Department of Children and Families found the allegations against him to be “unfounded.”
State education officials, however, say the photos show enough to warrant a certificate revocation.
The photographs show him and the female student alone in a band room for more than three hours on three consecutive days in June 2015. During one occasion, he walked into the room wearing dress pants and buttoned shirt and came out wearing shorts and a T-shirt. Another photo shows the two sitting in her car for several minutes.
In 2014, the high school principal warned Holody not to spend time alone with student and told him that other students complaint that he “favored” and “was too friendly with her," the State Board of Examiners says in the decision.
No jail time in child sex case
A former Freehold Township High School substitute teacher who was accused last year of having sexual encounters with an underage student was sentenced to parole supervision for life after pleading guilty in June to child endangerment.
Daniel Kropa had been facing 10 years in prison on a second-degree sexual assault charge. The State Board of Examiners revoked his substitute credential.
Harassed black, Jewish students
A former Middlesex County Vocational Technical School teacher finally had his computer science technology teaching certificates revoked after spending years trying to appeal a court-imposed prohibition on him working as a teacher.
Emilio Perez was found guilty in 2013 of harassing students by calling a black girl "ghetto" and telling a Jewish boy to "go count your money, that's all you're good for."
Perez lost an appeal of the sentence in 2015.
The district's 2012 tenure charges also accused him of keeping pornography in the classroom. The tenure charges, however, were withdrawn after he was found guilty in criminal court.
Innocent video of girls?
A former Ocean City substitute teacher has lost his credential in New Jersey after admitting to taking video of girls in leotards stretching before dance class.
Geoffrey Hamilton said the 11-second video was innocent — he took it and shared it with a female friend in Maine because he “merely wanted to prove to a friend, a woman, that a klutz like me would be subbing for a dance class.”
After showing the video to the principal, it was deleted. Hamilton argued to the State Board of Examiners that he had been a successful and loved educator in Arizona for 30 years. He also no longer lived in New Jersey and would not teach here again, pleading that he did not want to have a revocation on his record.
The Board, however, found his conduct "unacceptable for a role model."
"Although he admits that it was a mistake, Hamilton’s actions invaded the students’ expectations of safety and privacy in their classroom," the Board's decision says.
'Monster' loses another credential
A former child behavioral therapist who pleaded guilty last year to molesting eight patients has lost his education counseling certificate.
Troy Leonard already had his therapy credentials revoked by the state Board of Marriage and Family Therapy Examiners earlier this year.
Leonard, 31, admitted touching eight children who were all under the age of 13 between 2011 and 2015. He was sentenced to five years for those offenses and an additional five years for filing fraudulent insurance claims.
In court, Leonard called himself a “monster” who took advantage of his young patients.
Ex-administrator gets Drug Court
A former Community Charter School of Paterson administrator who was charged last year with stealing more than $75,000 from the school was sentenced in May to Drug Court, avoiding jail time. The State Board of Examiners, meanwhile, revoked Kathleen E. Patacsil's administrator certificate.
Loses career over paying intern
The former Shore Regional High School District administrator who was sentenced to probation for paying an intern to do his work for him has lost his school administrator certificate.
Dennis Kotch pleaded guilty in June to official misconduct, theft by unlawful taking, misapplication of entrusted property and insurance fraud. As part of the plea, he agreed to forfeit his job and any future public employment.
21 years in prison
A man sentenced to 21 years in prison for beating an older man almost to death won't be teaching math when he gets out.
Julio P. Pina-Catena lost his teaching certificate following his July 2016 conviction in the 2011 assault. Pina-Catena was accused of breaking into his ex-boyfriend's home to cause damage. When his ex's father came home, authorities say Pina-Catena savagely beat him, causing permanent brain damage. He was acquitted of attempted murder.
Disqualified by drug charges
The State Board of Examiners revoked the elementary and disabled-student teaching certificates of a South Jersey man who was arrested multiple times on child endangerment and drug charges.
Joseph Benevuto was sentenced to six days in Burlington County jail in September 2015 after pleading guilty to criminal mischief. In Ocean County, he was sentenced to a year of probation and drug evaluations after pleading guilty in January 2015 to child endangerment. He was sentenced to 84 days in jail after pleading guilty in August 2015 to criminal mischief and violating a court order. He also pleaded guilty in January 2016 to possessing ketamine.
Probation for child porn
A former Cumberland Regional High School biology teacher lost his credentials after pleading guilty in May to child endangerment by possessing and viewing child pornography. David L. Rodriguez was arrested last year.
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Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-359-5348 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.