BY KATHY CHANG
WOODBRIDGE — Teaching certificates for a long-time former elementary school teacher, who was dismissed from the township school district in 2013, have been suspended for two years.
The New Jersey Department of Education State Board of Examiners adopted the order of suspension of Paula Weckesser’s Teacher of Elementary School and Teacher of Mathematics certificates in a formal written six-page decision on April 6. Both of her certificates were issued to her in June 1981.
“In this case, the record established that Weckesser had a pattern of insubordinate behavior that continued over several school years,” the decision stated.
The decision noted that through Weckesser’s testimony and submission before the board, that she was remorseful for her actions and accepts responsibility for her behavior.
The Woodbridge Township School District had certified tenure charges against Weckesser alleging unbecoming conduct and insubordination.
The district alleged that Weckesser had conducted herself in an inappropriate and disrespectful manner over a prolonged period of time.
Specifically, the district alleged that Weckesser had been late to work on numerous occasions, despite repeated warnings and did not complete her grade book according to district directives.
The district noted that Weckesser continually refused help from superiors when offered. She was also cited for having her cell phone in possession during the administration of the 2008 High School Proficiency exam, which was against state policy.
Weckesser was also alleged to have treated students poorly having ridiculed an ESL (English as a Second Language) student for not being able to read numbers off a calculator and had made another student stand up in class for an extended period of time because he fell asleep during a lesson.
In September 2013, Weckesser was found to be “unfit to discharge the duties and functions of her position as a teacher” and was dismissed from her tenured employment.
In testimony before the board, Weckesser noted that she had been a teacher for 30 years and that she loved children, teaching and helping people.
She took responsibility for her actions and stated that going through the tenure proceeding was difficult and a learning experience. She also noted that she had learned the effect her words and actions could have on others. She stressed how important teaching was to her and stated that she knew she had to be open to taking guidance from others.
Weckesser’s attorney, Edward A. Cridge, noted that many of the findings in the tenure decision concerned behaviors that could have affected anyone.
He maintained that these actions were not so grave that Weckesser should lose her certificates. He added that maybe it was right she lost her job, but she should be allowed to teach again.