On January 2, 2014, the Bound Brook Board of Education (Somerset County) agreed to pay $250,000 to a former elementary school teacher and Learning Disabilities Teaching Consultant who alleged that her supervisor and other school officials subjected her to “a campaign of harassment and abuse.”

In her suit, Shari Duddy, a teacher since 1989, said that despite her excellent job performance, her supervisor, Jasmine Brandt, continually harassed and abused her.  Among her specific allegations were Brandt giving her own work to Duddy, Brandt falsely accusing Duddy of forging a signature on a District document and “falsely and publicly accusing Ms Duddy of having sexual relations with the principal of a District school in the principal’s office.”

She claims that even after she was transferred to the Administration Building, Brandt, along with school business administrator Carole Deddy and Superintendent Edward Hoffman, “undertook a course of action apparently designed to impede Ms. Duddy’s ability to perform the assigned task.  Specifically, she accused Deddy of “ordering staff to inspect Ms. Duddy’s computer in her absence and observe when she went to the bathroom.”

Also named in the suit were Martin Gleason, Peter Allen, Stephen Clouser, Michele DeFazio, Nicholas DelVecchio, Shawn Hasting, Robert Murray, Rae Siebel and Joseph Tomaselli.

The case is captioned Duddy v. Bound Brook Board of Education, Somerset County Superior Court Docket No. SOM-L-0988-11 and Duddy’s attorney was Nicholas Stevens of Roseland.  Case documents are on-line here.

The settlement agreement contains a confidentiality clause, which prevents the parties to the suit from publicly disclosing the settlement terms.  Fortunately, however, these confidentiality clauses do not trump the public’s right to obtain copies of settlement agreements that arise out of lawsuits in which a government agency or official is a defendant.

None of Duddy’s allegations have been proven or disproven in court. The settlement agreement resolution expressly states that the $250,000 payment does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by the school board or any of its officials. All that is known for sure is that the Board or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay Duddy $250,000 than take the matter to trial. Perhaps the defendants’ decision to settle was done to save further legal expense and the costs of trying what were in fact exaggerated or meritless claims. Or, perhaps the claims were true and the defendants wanted to avoid being embarrassed at trial. This is the problem when cases settle before trial–it is impossible to know the truth of what really happened.

Update:  I have made paperwork related to two other related matters available on-line:
Carole E. Deddy v. Board of Education, et al, Docket No. SOM-L-122-12
Board of Education v. Carole Deddy, Docket No. SOM-C-12050-12

Chairman of the New Jersey Libertarian Party's Open Government Advocacy Project. Please send all comments to [email protected]