Friday, January 30, 2015

Lawsuit seeks nature of “suspicious incident” that resulted in Bound Brook High School teacher's firing.

On March 11, 2015 at 9 a.m., Somerset County Superior Court Assignment Judge Yolanda Ciccone will hear argument in my newly filed lawsuit against the Borough of Bound Brook (Paff v. Borough of Bound Brook, Docket No. SOM-L-72-15). The main issue in my lawsuit, which was filed by Montclair attorney Richard M. Gutman, is whether Bound Brook Borough violated my rights under the Open Public Records Act (OPRA) and the common law right of access by redacting the "narrative description" from a police report of an October 29, 2014 incident involving a 24-year-old teacher (identified as the "Suspect") and an unidentified juvenile (identified as the "Victim").

The facts obtained so far show that Bound Brook High School Principal Dan Gallagher called police on October 29, 2014 to report a "suspicious incident" at the high school.  The suspect was 24-year old high school art teacher Kimberly L. Charnuska and the alleged victim was a juvenile. Two Bound Brook Borough police officers were dispatched to the high school and were “cleared” from the call 26 minutes later. On the same day that the incident was reported, Bound Brook High School art teacher Kimberly Charnuska was suspended with pay and four weeks later she was terminated at a November 24, 2014 Bound Brook Board of Education meeting.

In response to my OPRA request, the Borough released a "911 CAD Incident Report" but had redacted the "Narrative Description" of that report. The redacted narrative description would very likely reveal the nature of Charnuska's alleged conduct that resulted in her suspension and termination.  My complaint argues that I am entitled to the narrative description under OPRA.  It also argues that the public's interest in knowing more about this matter, so that it can determine whether Charnuska was treated too leniently or too severely, outweighs the Borough's or Charnuska's interest in keeping the matter confidential.

My lawsuit, brief, certification and related documents are on-line here.


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