Judge Upholds Firing of NJ Middle School Teacher for Sexual Harassment, Was Suspended Without Pay Almost Two Years Ago, Complaints Date Back to 2003

it's a middle school not a dance clubWoodbridge Public SchoolsA middle school teacher in Woodbridge was suspended (without pay!) for the last 20 months over a series of sexual harassment complaints made by students and at least one fellow teacher. The teacher, James Lang, was tenured and under a union contract that meant the school’s decision to terminate him could be reviewed by a state judge. The administrative judge ruled last week that Lang should be fired, that he was “not fit to lead in an educational institution,” that he “violated all standards of decency,” and that the middle school teacher’s “grotesque and sexual behavior” helped create “a sexually demeaning environment.”  Lang was accused of calling his female students hos, whores, and prostitutes, and making sexual advances toward them as well as at least one female teacher.

Amazingly, the judge’s decision is still not final. Lang’s attorney, who denies the charges, says he is planning to appeal the decision; it can be overturned by the state education commissioner. These are the benefits of tenure, a concept originally formulated to protect college-level educators from reprisals for teaching unpopular subjects or opinions, not to protect perverts who manage to land jobs at middle schools. How did Lang get to tenure in the first place? The accusations date back to 2003, the year Lang started with the Woodbridge Public Schools, but he received “consistently satisfactory” performance evaluations, according to MyCentralJersey.com, which also reports he worked at three schools in the district. Among the accusations against Lang related to his interaction with middle school students were:

• Calling a student “Jo-Jo the Ho-Ho” and a “dirty ho,” slang terms for a prostitute.
• Calling a student a whore and suggesting that she wear less clothing on dress-down day.
• Telling a female student who bent over to pick up a paper that he would “tap that.”
• Asking students during class whether they would be afraid if his “snake were in their bed.”
• Saying that a female student’s “mouth was fast and on the weekends it runs extra fast.”
• Telling his class that he used to watch students shower at a former job at a community center.

Despite public sector unions insisting their employees have the right to “due process” in employment, not being terminated immediately for these kinds of accusations, at the discretion of administration, is not a right, nor a privilege that ought to be extended to them.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • albo||

    Yeah, why do public school teachers need tenure? The curriculum is pretty much set by the school. It's different from a university.

    The public employee union-Democratic party snuggle fest has really been a kick in the taint to the taxpayers.

  • ||

    They don't, other than it becomes a magical "you can't fire me" contract. So of course they want it.

  • SugarFree||

    College academics don't need it either. The idea that a professor would be fired for "controversial" opinions is ludicrous; the inmates already run the asylum.

  • WTF||

    He should have been a cop. Then he would have gotten paid while he was suspended.

  • ||

    "Complaints Dates Back to 2003"

    Grammatical rules regarding subject-verb agreement date back even further.

  • Ed||

    "Me fail English? That's unpossible"

  • Loki||

    So does being a pedantic grammar snob.

  • ||

    Just being facetious. No need to get hostile. See, one of my sentences is even a fragment.

  • Acosmist||

    There are actually people out there who use this fake "pedantic" insult to defend clear typos. Wow. Amazing.

    And you live with yourself. Huh.

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    Even beyond the inappropriateness of this language in a school setting, what adult male would talk like this? Sounds like the guy is half-retard.

  • ||

    I worked in a mental hospital. We had a number of patients who behaved exactly like that, and worse.

    He is not retarded.

  • KDN||

    I had this guy as a student teacher for HS History back in like '99 in the same district; I can't believe he eventually got hired. A total toolbox and an atrocious teacher, the first thing our real teacher said as soon as he was gone is "dammit, thank God that's over." I totally forgot about it until this story.

    I also can't believe that the same guy that used to kick us out of Physics so he could get a jump on drinking and watching whatever sporting event was on in the afternoon is now Superintendent. No wonder my hometown is going to crap.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Amazingly, the judge’s decision is still not final.

    Due Process, FTW!

    Consequences are for little people.

  • playa manhattan||

    "Telling a female student who bent over to pick up a paper that he would “tap that.”"

    At a middle school? How charming.

  • Pelosi's Rabbit||

    To be fair, she was asking for it.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    not being terminated immediately for these kinds of accusations, at the discretion of administration, is not a right, nor a privilege that ought to be extended to them.

    "At will" employment is just like slavery, you monster.

    And-

    Would it have taken ten fucking years to toss "Jo-jo"s dad in prison for knocking that fucker's teeth out, one by one?

  • Killaz||

    Exactly this.

  • R C Dean||

    it can be overturned by the state education commissioner.

    So, it all comes down to who sent the education commissioner. Did he/she/it come from a unionized job? Does the governor owe his/her/its position and influence to the unions?

    If so, I think we know how this will turn out.

  • So Conz Esq.||

    the proper thing to do is not renew the union's contract because of Lang. if they want to hang together, let them.

  • sarcasmic||

    Know who else appealed their being fired?

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/new.....iring.html

    That's right. The cop who shot at a minivan full of kids.

  • Aloysious||

    If I talked like this at work, I would be fired so fast that there would be a sonic boom.

    Fire. His. Ass.

  • ||

    Telling his class that he used to watch students shower at a former job at a community center.

    Well, really, who among us can honestly say he hasn't done that?

  • playa manhattan||

    This comment goes perfectly with your handle.

  • ||

    It's not so much a handle as it is a way of life.

  • Invisible Finger||

    Ten years and they haven't even started looking for his kiddie porn stash?

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Progressive Puritans: From e-cigs to sex classifieds, the once transgressive left wants to criminalize fun.
  • Port Authoritarians: Chris Christie’s Bridgegate scandal
  • The Menace of Secret Government: Obama’s proposed intelligence reforms don’t safeguard civil liberties

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement