By JENNIFER AMATO
NORTH BRUNSWICK – A science teacher at Linwood Middle School had his teaching licenses revoked after years of allegations of inappropriate behavior.
By a vote of 9-0, the New Jersey Department of Education (DOE) State Board of Examiners “voted to revoke [Robert] Kupcha’s certificates based upon the level and nature of the conduct” during its Jan. 19 meeting.
According to a docket dated March 3 that was posted to the DoE’s website, on June 23, 2016, the board had reviewed information sent from the North Brunswick School District. Kupcha had resigned from his tenured position after the district filed tenure charges that were based on allegations of unbecoming behavior, misconduct, neglect and insubordination.
Initially, in November of 2013, the document states, Kupcha had been reprimanded for engaging in dialogue with a 10th grade student on a social media website. In the publicly visible post, Kupcha made comments about men’s and boys underwear, and made references to engaging in sexual activity with a girl. He also posted a message inviting a person to his home to consume alcohol.
Kupcha told the board he was responding to someone else’s Tweet and did not know it was public, according to the docket.
Then, in February of 2014, Kupcha again posted an inappropriate message on a public social networking website, where he identified a student as classified for special education. He received a six-day suspension without pay, according to the document.
Kupcha told the board he did not know listing a classification was wrong, according to the docket.
In April of 2014, Kupcha was reprimanded for posing as an anonymous parent in an email he forwarded to the administration, complaining about an aide in his classroom and praising himself.
Kupcha admitted to the board that he sent the email after the administration did not remove the aide from the classroom after several reports of inappropriate behavior by that person, according to the docket.
In May of 2015, he received a written reprimand for committing an NJ ASK security breach by placing secure testing materials in an unattended and open mailbox rather than personally delivering them to a test instructor.
He told the board it was a mistake, and was supported by his supervisor that the test papers were only exposed for 10 minutes, according to the document.
Then, on Oct. 30, 2015, Kupcha sent an image via text message of male genitalia drawn in the sand at Linwood to 14 of his colleagues, according to the document. He was removed from the building on “authorized school business leave.” Following the incident, he allegedly ignored an administrative directive to refrain from communicating with staff and students during the investigation, according to the document; he allegedly sent texts to students on Dec. 4, 2015.
Kupcha admitted to the board that he did send the picture of the sand but that no one approached him about the sexual harassment implications, and stated that his subsequent email to students in December was preprogrammed into the system prior to his suspension, according to the docket.
During the school district’s investigation, it was also discovered that Kupcha had allegedly made numerous other inappropriate and sexually-laced comments to colleagues, according to the docket. Officials reported a public Facebook message in which Kupcha stated his desire to make a bet with a colleague’s husband, where the loser would have to run around in his underwear while she watched. He also reportedly messaged another colleague wanting to make a bet with her husband that would require her husband to wear a thong.
During the course of the 2012-13 and 2013-14 school years, North Brunswick officials also reportedly uncovered that Kupcha had allegedly asked a substitute teacher how he was being paid and offered to pay him extra money if he “ran the bases in his boxer shorts.” Kupcha also messaged the substitute teacher, asking to hang out in “just their underwear.”
Kupcha told the board that he made comments on a private cell phone but was not confronted until after his suspension about any issues, according to the document.
Because of the aforementioned accusations, Kupcha’s teaching licenses were revoked: Teacher of Elementary School in Grades K-5 and Teacher of Elementary School With Subject Matter Specialization: Science Grades 5-8 in both 2005 and 2006.
Superintendent of Schools Brian Zychowski could not comment further on this issue.
Contact Jennifer Amato at email@example.com.