NJ counselor accused of telling heartbroken student: ‘You’ll f*** 40 girls in college’
FREEHOLD BOROUGH — A Monmouth County school district fired a psychologist who officials say provided counseling advice that was just plain crazy.
In one case involving a Freehold High School student distraught after breaking up with his girlfriend, officials claim the student said Brett D. Holeman called his ex a “slut” who was “banging other guys.”
The student said Holeman then tried to comfort him by saying that the teen would “f--- 40 girls” once he got to college, administrators say.
He also was accused of recommending that the student read a profanity-laced book, “F*ck Feelings: One Shrink's Practical Advice for Managing All Life's Impossible Problems.”
Holeman, who has a doctorate in psychology from New York University and was once named one of “New Jersey’s Favorite Kids Docs” by New Jersey Family magazine, denied these and other allegations detailed in tenure charges filed by the Freehold Regional High School District.
According to an arbitration decision released recently by the state Department of Education, district officials said he often used profanity, yelled to the point that colleagues worried about students' safety, and even threatened the principal.
Holeman had worked for the district since 2004 and received nothing but positive evaluations. School officials, however, say they noticed his behavior change in 2016. They were so alarmed that the administration ordered him to take a drug test because they suspected him of steroid use. The test results came back negative. He also passed a psychiatric examination.
Holeman also has his ardent supporters. Several former students spoke on his behalf during Board of Education meetings in October and November.
A 2006 graduate said Holeman became his "male role model and father figure" after his own father died.
"He was able to help me take all the emotion I was feeling and positively apply it to both my academics and my high school wrestling career," the former student said. "I can only hope that I can reach my son that way Dr. Holeman reached me."
A 2009 graduate said Holeman's counseling is what motivated her to pursue a career in social work.
"He made every one of us feel special and he had time to hear our voice," she said.
Nevertheless, a state-appointed arbitrator last month found enough reasons to uphold the district’s firing of Holeman.
Arbitrator Stephen J. Rosen's decision says that it would be “inadvisable” for the district to reinstate the tenured employee, who provided counseling to students and served on the school's child study teams.
“In order to effectively serve the needs of students it is important the school Guidance Department function free of conflict," Rosen's decision says.
Holeman did not return a request for comment left on the phone number for his private practice.
Rosen noted how rare it is for a teachers union representative and other colleagues to testify against a co-worker, as they did in this case.
It was a union representative who testified that Holeman had threatened the principal in a meeting by telling her: "You better sleep with one eye open.” Holeman denied this.
He also denied using his work email or school time to work on his private practice, Psyched Up.
In a response to the tenure charges, his lawyers argued that the “investigation was never about determining the truth of the matter or ascertaining both sides of a story," Rosen's decision quotes. "Rather, the investigation was about tailoring its processes, its collection of selective ‘facts’ and framing its results for one simple objective: Remove Dr. Holeman from the district.”
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.