Byram music instructor may lose teaching license

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:57

    BYRAM - The county’s top school administrator said the longtime Byram educator arrested for allegedly engaging in lewd behavior two weeks ago could lose his teaching license and forfeit any employment benefits if convicted of the charges. Sussex County superintendent of schools Barry Worman cited state law and code, which provides grounds to revoke a teaching certificate when information is received regarding a holder’s criminal conviction. The state may also revoke or suspend the license on the basis of “conduct unbecoming a teacher or other just cause.” Worman said it is the responsibility of each school district to notify the Board of Examiners when a teaching staff member has been accused of criminal offenses or inappropriate conduct. “It’s a local matter; we don’t get involved,” he said. “But I think districts in Sussex County are responsible enough about approaching each other to not enable someone who may have done something unbecoming to go to another school district and teach.” Worman said he was notified of the incident involving Curtis L. Wilson, a music teacher at the Byram Lakes Elementary School. N. J. State Police arrested him along with three other men on Sept. 22 for allegedly taking part in lewd behavior in a wooded area behind a rest stop off Route 80 in Allamuchy Township. Wilson, an employee of the Byram schools system for more than 15 years, was placed on leave by the district following his arrest. Worman said state educators were reminded of the seriousness of their obligations when a band teacher accused of sexually abusing a student in Newark three years ago was suspended from his new job at an Irvington middle school after officials learned of the allegations this week. Byram schools superintendent Joseph Pezak said he addressed the incident with his staff and teachers. He said the district has received many calls from concerned parents following the arrest. However, Pezak told parents he was unable to comment until an investigation of the charges was completed. Worman said there is no template at the county level for local administrators to follow when addressing accusations detrimental to a teacher’s ability to perform his or her duties. “The state hasn’t prepared a fill-in-the-blank model or sample,” he said. “Each superintendent usually sends home a reassuring letter to the parents and opens a dialogue with students. Each superintendent knows his or her district best and knows how to handle or word this.” In a letter to parents last week, Pezak said the “district cannot comment on personnel matters” and that these decisions are handled in a “confidential manner as required by law and ethics.” Pezak said the issues involving the Budd Lake resident are “outside of the district and our students.” He said the board of education is “weighing all possible options with the interest of the students and district in mind.” Undercover officers arrested Wilson, while conducting routine quality-of-life details, police said.