May 2

Arrested Administrator Threatens to Sue Ocean City Schools

first_imgGet the Daily. Sign up for free email updates._______A written response to the tort claim from Ocean City Schools Business Administrator Timothy Kelley suggests the notice contains too little information to identify any tortious conduct.“The District will need additional information on the general claim that Dr. Lentz was allegedly threatened with criminal prosecution,” Kelley writes. “Your attachment does not state who made such alleged threats, when they were made, or who witnessed the threats. You also assert that there was some purported agreement that Dr. Lentz would retire/resign in exchange for no further action. You have not produced a writing to that effect, nor have you provided any specifics as to who entered into the agreement, the specific terms of the agreement, the date of the agreement, or whether the agreement was approved by the Board. Furthermore, you have not explained the meaning of ‘no further action’ or the ‘action’ that has been taken by the Board against Dr. Lentz since her retirement/resignation.”Kelley goes on to point out that Lentz claims “breach of contract” without producing a contract, “unjust enrichment” without providing evidence of how the district was enriched, “defamation” without identifying any false statements, and “abuse of process even though she voluntarily retired/resigned.”The tort claim notice suggests that Lentz “anticipates that her damages will be in excess of $2,000,000.”“Claimant’s damages include, but are not limited to, mental pain and anguish, humiliation, loss of reputation in the community, loss of income, loss of employability, potential loss of pension, loss of employment benefits, preclusion from her previous part-time employment with the NJEA as a consultant, financial costs incurred in defending the pending frivolous criminal charges, attorney’s fees, and punitive damages,” Pelloni writes in the tort claim notice.He alleges the damages were caused by various members and representatives of the school district, including Taylor and attorneys Mark G. Toscano and Jeffrey R. Caccese from the Comegno Law Group, which represents the district in employment matters.The district’s response to the tort claim notice states that it does not meet the statutory requirements to provide sufficient information to the Ocean City Board of Education. A request for supplemental information was forwarded to Pelloni. Because it is Lentz potentially taking action against the district, she would be required to provide the information relevant to it.“As I am sure you are aware, any refusal of your client to answer any of the district’s questions or provide information based on a Fifth Amendment privilege would permit a negative inference to be drawn should a claim be brought,” Kelley writes.Any potential lawsuit could be influenced by the outcome of the criminal case against Lentz. She has been charged, but no grand jury to date has handed down an indictment against her.Official misconduct is a second-degree crime, subject to a prison term of five to 10 years. Computer criminal activity is a third-degree crime with a possible prison term of three to five years.Pelloni did not return calls for comment.A published telephone number for Lentz is no longer in service, and OCNJ Daily could not otherwise reach her for comment.Taylor cannot comment on personnel matters or pending litigation. Superintendent Kathleen Taylor (left) and former Vice Principal and Athletic Director Christine Lentz at a Board of Education meeting a year before an investigation into computer activity at Ocean City High School.Christine Lentz, the former Ocean City High School vice principal and athletic director who was arrested in August and charged with official misconduct and computer criminal activity, may try to sue the school district.An attorney for Lentz filed a notice of tort claim on Sept. 23. State law requires such notices to be submitted within 90 days of an incident, if a person hopes to make a later claim against a public entity.The tort claim notes that Lentz was brought into the the office of School Superintendent Kathleen Taylor at 1 p.m. June 26 and confronted by Taylor and two lawyers.“Claimant was presented with various false accusations made by Superintendent Taylor and was threatened with criminal prosecution, employee discipline proceedings, and tenure charges if she did not resign from her position in the school district,” attorney Brian A. Pelloni of the Philadelphia firm Hornstine & Pelloni writes in the tort claim. “As a result of said meeting, Claimant was forced into an agreement whereby she resigned from her position, effective July 1, 2015, in exchange for no further action by the school district.”The notice claims Lentz was not permitted to have an attorney of her own choosing present at the meeting. It also alleges that Taylor’s actions “were as a result of her disapproval of Claimant’s sexual orientation, as she continually engaged in a pattern of discrimination after learning of Claimant’s same-sex marriage in August 2013.”The account of events in Lentz’s tort claim differs from what is described in a mandatory report on the incident the school district delivered to the state Board of Examiners (which oversees educator licensing in New Jersey). As a public record, the report was required to be released to OCNJ Daily. Read more: High-Tech Probe Targeted Woman Who ‘Knew Too Much.Lentz, 53, of Woodbine, turned herself in August 4 at the Cape May County Prosecutor’s Office after a forensics investigation at the school.Prosecutor Robert L. Taylor alleges that Lentz accessed the Ocean City School District email of Superintendent Kathleen Taylor without authorization between April 1 and June 1.The prosecutor released no information on any alleged motive, but the summons-complaint for Lentz’s arrest obtained by OCNJ Daily suggests investigators believe she sought confidential documents “to gain a benefit in ongoing school contractual negotiations.”Lentz served on the administrators’ union as vice president and grievance chair, according to Pelloni. She had a 30-year career in the district, starting in 1985 as a science teacher and girls’ basketball coach. She has been athletic director at the high school since 2008. Her annual salary was $123,197.The tort claim notice does not explain why, if she were faced with false accusations, Lentz would resign or agree to an “exchange for no further action by the school district.” She did a month later ask the Ocean City Board of Education to rescind her resignation. It did not._______last_img

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Posted May 2, 2021 by admin in category "urjjbavx

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