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Former Sayreville teacher alleges her contract was not renewed based on complaints made during pandemic

SAYREVILLE – A former teacher in the Sayreville School District has filed legal action against the district, alleging her contract was wrongfully not renewed.

Andrea Roman, a former teacher at the Emma L. Arleth Elementary School, filed a complaint in New Jersey Superior court against the Board of Education, Principal Robert Preston and unnamed defendants in late February.

In the complaint, Roman alleges the defendants ended her employment in a discriminatory and retaliatory manner and were wanton, intentional and malicious in their conduct. She is seeking compensatory damages, punitive damages and reinstatement.

According to the complaint, Roman became a teacher at Arleth in 2018 and was a replacement second grade teacher from 2018 to 2019. She was rehired for the 2019-20 school year as a general education teacher and assigned to a pull-out-resources (POR) classroom.

The complaint alleges that during the coronavirus pandemic, Roman was the only teacher physically present in Arleth’s POR classroom from November to December 2020 when in-person instruction resumed in the district. As the classroom was legally required to have a certified special education instructor present, Roman reported this alleged violation of the law to the Sayreville Education Association, the union for the district’s teachers.

According to the complaint, the defendants were also allegedly not following CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) guidelines for contact tracing and not notifying students and parents of potential coronavirus exposure in December 2021, which Roman openly objected to.

In April 2021, according to the complaint, Roman contracted coronavirus. The complaint alleges that Preston asked her to work remotely while recovering, which she was not able to do.

According to the complaint, Roman was advised in May 2021 that her contract would not be renewed for the 2021-22 school year. The complaint alleges she was provided no legitimate, non-retaliatory, non-discriminatory rationale for the decision not to renew her employment.

“[Roman]’s loss of employment was motivated by and blatantly retaliatory for [her] CEPA [Conscientious Employee Protection Act] protected conduct,” the complaint alleges.

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