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Lawsuit: Ex-Brick Interim Super Fired Vice Principal After She Refused to Change His Son’s Grade

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Richard Caldes (Photo: Daniel Nee)
Richard Caldes (Photo: Daniel Nee)

A lawsuit filed by a former vice principal at Brick Memorial High School alleges former interim schools superintendent Richard Caldes denied her tenure as retaliation for her refusal to change his son’s grade.

The complaint, filed in Ocean County Superior Court in January by Brenda Coyle, the former administrator, states that Caldes contacted her on Jan. 4, 2016, four months before he became interim superintendent, to request Coyle log into Apex, an online course program, and change his son’s grade. According to the lawsuit, Caldes told Coyle his son “did not have a high enough score to progress through the program.”

Coyle refused, stating in court papers that it would have been illegal for her to access the Apex account needed to change the grade because the student’s teachers had not authorized her to do so.

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Caldes became interim superintendent after the arrest of superintendent Walter Uszenski on criminal charges in May 2015. Before that, he had the role of Educational Specialist, an administrative title. According to Coyle’s complaint, three business days after Caldes became interim superintendent, he reversed a decision made by Uszenski to grant Coyle tenure, effectively non-renewing her contract and terminating her employment.

Coyle states in the lawsuit that her non-tenure was retaliation over her refusal to change the grade. Caldes, she alleges, told her the reason for his decision was based on “evaluations and observations,” but Coyle claims both her evaluations and observations were “uniformly positive.”

[box type=”shadow” align=”” class=”” width=””]READ A PORTION OF THE COMPLAINT

Case information and count one. (PDF)[/box]

Caldes, a Point Pleasant Borough resident, did not respond to a request for comment by Shorebeat. It is unclear under what circumstances his son was attending the Brick school district.

Coyle also alleges she was not provided with a Rice notice – a document notifying a public employee that their employment will be discussed at a meeting – and was denied a Donaldson hearing, which is an opportunity for a non-renewed employee to appear before the Board of Education to make a case that she should be granted tenure.

“She’s devastated,” Alan H. Schorr, Coyle’s attorney, told Shorebeat. “She loved the job. It was not just her livelihood, it was her life.”

A list of Brick Memorial High School administrators which appeared on the 2015-16 school budget. (Source: Brick Twp. Schools)
A list of Brick Memorial High School administrators which appeared on the 2015-16 school budget. (Source: Brick Twp. Schools)

Coyle, records show, was hired as a high school science teacher in 2012. She was later promoted to vice principal and was completing her third year of service with the district, meaning she either had to be granted tenure or let go. According to the 2015-16 school year budget, Coyle’s employment was listed to be funded. The only instance where an assistant principal position was to be eliminated was at Lake Riviera Middle School.

The lawsuit names the school district, the Board of Education and Caldes as defendants. It seeks unspecified damages for loss of reputation, back pay, front pay, reinstatement, emotional distress, plus punitive damages and attorneys fees.

Coyle, a Brick resident, is now “persona non grata” with the school district and has been unable to find another job, Schorr said.

“Not only has she lost her job, but she’s alienated in her own town,” he added.

The suit is characterized as a whistleblower action, attorney Adam Schorr said, since Coyle allegedly “refused to participate in an unlawful act.”

Schorr said the school district, in an initial answer to the complaint, claimed they acted in good faith in the non-renewal of Coyle’s contract and denied the allegations made against Caldes.

If the case is to proceed to trial, it would likely occur sometime in 2018, Schorr said. The discovery period in the case does not end until May 2017.

Caldes is no longer serving as interim superintendent. He returned to the position of Educational Specialist after the Board of Education hired former Jackson superintendent Thomas Gialanella to fill the interim role.


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  • Joseph Woolston Brick

    I have a question, quite a few of my neighbors send their kids to Point Pleasant Beach High School, as they feel it’s a better school than Brick, in order to do so, they pay Point Pleasant Beach a tuition and provide their own transportation. Since Mr Caldes lives in Point Pleasant Boro does he pay a tuition to Brick for his child to go to our school?

    • Smokin

      That’s a great question..??? I know quiet a few families that send there kids to schools out of town because of the problem in our schools..

  • Surfrider

    Good question. Here we go again, another law suit. This crap has to stop. All these “players” in the high admin positions realize that it is all nepotism and who knows who to begin with, so when they have these issues, the tax payer should not be responsible for funding the lawyers! If they want to fight like cats, do it on their own “dime” ! And they say the case would not be heard until some time in 2018? Another joke. A lot of unnecessary costs coming to Brick if this suit holds water!

  • Mac

    One thing has become crystal clear in Ocean County government, of which the schools are simply just a more hidden and shadowy treasure chest of political corruption. One of the golden rules of being hired, appointed, gifted and/or blessed to a political position is to demonstrate beyond any reasonable doubt that one is pettier than any other contenders for the position.

    • KaayC

      AND a relative!

      • KaayC

        “The Education Specialist degree is a planned 30-credit (minimum) post-master’s program in which candidates are expected to attain a broad and systematic understanding of professional education, a definitive knowledge of a particular field of specialization, and an ability to integrate and apply theoretical concepts of education in an actual educational context. This program is designed for the accomplished, experienced practitioner with specific professional aspirations. It is not designed for those who wish to pursue a research emphasis as a prelude to doctoral study.”

        APPARENTLY NO CLASS IN ETHICS. Honesty is learned in kindergarten. Apparently Caldes was absent the day they covered that.

  • Chief Wahoo

    Oh wonderful. Now the Bricktucky taxpayers will get to pay for another public taker hissy fit lawsuit. I always have a tough time figuring out who I’m rooting for to take more of our money , when I despise both sides and would rather not pay of these public takers a penny in salary. Pension. Or Health benefits. Too bad she loved her job. So do all the private workers who lose their jobs but still are expected to pay public takers thru property taxes. And. How many superintendent takers currently are being paid with taxpayer money ?????

    Wake up (before you wake up under a tent) Bricktucky you are being robbed by ALL public takers. There are no good ones. If this story is found as truth. She should be out the job. He should be in jail. Taxpayers should be left out of paying them or their lowlife parasite attorneys. Taxation is Theft !!!!

    • KaayC

      Why should she be out the job? You are senseless. She did the ethical thing in standing up to this dishonesty!

    • JJ

      I take offense to the “Bricktucky” phrase. If you don’t like it here move!

  • PPB Alum

    Glad to see after all these years, Dick Caldes still hasn’t figured out how to get a proper haircut and keep his sideburns a normal length.

    This is a guy who while Vice Principal @ PPB would sit in his family minivan and “stake out” students returning from lunch who may have “walked too far from school grounds”.

    He’s a creep by the very definition of the word.

  • Caldes should be fired. End of sentence.

  • Smokin

    And they continue to make the huge pay checks on Bricktown tax payers

  • KaayC

    This is exactly the kind of crap that goes on! Just like “Ashbury Park” teacher Tujaime Berry liked to change grades at Coastal Learning Center. She was outed and the administration did N.O.T.H.I.N.G. playing their own little version of Affirmative Action. She is still employed at “Ashbury Park”

  • annon

    caldes has been the biggest asshole since day one and Ms.Coyle was SUCH a sweetheart. I hope Caldes gets whats coming to him, everyone hated his guts he is selfish and doesnt care about anyone but himsself. FUCK YOU CALDES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!