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Brick Schools to Pay $275K Whistleblower Settlement to Former Vice Principal

Brick Township Memorial High School (Photo: Daniel Nee)

Brick Township Memorial High School (Photo: Daniel Nee)

The Brick Township school district will settle a whistleblower lawsuit brought by a former vice principal for $275,000, according to documents obtained by Shorebeat through an Open Public Records Act request.

Brenda Coyle, a former vice principal at Brick Memorial High School, filed the lawsuit last year, claiming Richard Caldes, the current BMHS principal and former interim superintendent, put the wheels in motion for her to be fired after she refused to change his stepson’s grade in the district’s computer system.

The district, in settlement papers, denied any wrongdoing on the part of any of its employees and continued to “deny the validity of the … disputed claims” Coyle made in her lawsuit. Coyle and the district signed both a non-disparagement and non-disclosure agreement, however the state’s public records law supersedes such civil contractual agreements.

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Coyle was denied tenure by the district, prompting the lawsuit.

The complaint, filed in Ocean County Superior Court in January 2016 by 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 stepson’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.

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.”

Alan H. Schorr, Coyle’s attorney, told Shorebeat in 2006 that Coyle became “persona non grata” with the district and was unable to find another job.

Both parties are now barred from commenting publicly on the settlement.