When someone is arrested and charged with a crime in New Jersey, police departments observe a protocol that includes the reading of Miranda Rights.
A special education teacher for the Lodi school district was charged with simple assault in Fort Lee and is scheduled to appear in court next month.
Melissa Grant-Terhune, 43, was arrested by Fort Lee police on March 3 for a disorderly persons offense of simple assault after it was determined she scratched the right side of a male victim’s face, according to the complaint summons, which described the act as domestic violence.
Grant-Terhune is the third Lodi teacher to be arrested in the past six months.
She has was hired by the Lodi school district in 2002. Her current salary is $78,576, according to Marc Capizzi, school business administrator.
This isn’t her first run-in with the law. In 2016, she was charged with driving while intoxicated.
At that time, she was stopped in her car in Lodi and was involved in an argument with a resident who was outside of her car, police said. She was given a field sobriety test and arrested.
Grant-Terhune is scheduled to appear in Fort Lee municipal court on April 9 at 10 a.m. on the assault charge.
Parents ask for transparency
In the wake of other arrests of teachers, parents asked the Board of Education about the protocol for sharing information when a teacher is charged with a crime.
The call for transparency came at the end of last year when two other Lodi teachers were arrested, and parents complained that they had to hear the news from their children, rather than district officials.
In October, Stephanie Carafa, a 32-year-old Lodi middle school teacher, allegedly groped and sent explicit messages to a 13-year-old boy whom she had taught in the third, fifth and seventh grades.
Along with sharing explicit photos and videos, Carafa allegedly groped the boy over his clothes and allowed him to touch her over hers, according to the arrest warrant.
Carafa is the daughter of Lodi Mayor Emil Carafa. She was charged with one count of endangering the welfare of a child and one count of aggravated criminal sexual contact. She is currently on paid leave from the Lodi school district.
That same month, Jason Nardachone, a high school teacher, made his first court appearance on Oct. 11 after being charged with conspiracy to commit health care fraud.
He allegedly conspired to defraud the New Jersey School Employees’ Health Benefits Program — to the tune of $564,754 — with phony claims for medically unnecessary prescriptions, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
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He is on unpaid leave from the Lodi school district.
Last year, Michael Ettz, a high school math teacher, was fired after he was sentenced to four years in prison stemming from an incident in 2014 where he hit a Bergen County police officer with his car while driving intoxicated. He left the officer with career-ending injuries.
In 2011, another Lodi teacher, Joseph Fusco, was charged with using a minor to commit a criminal offense, theft and trespassing, for allegedly using his students to help him take hunting equipment while on a class trip.
Schools superintendent Frank Quatrone had previously told parents that he is prohibited by law from commenting on personnel matters, which is why he is couldn’t mention anything specific about the previous teachers who were arrested.
“When addressing staff who have been arrested or indicted, the investigation is conducted by the appropriate law enforcement officials,” Quatrone previously said, adding, “law enforcement officials are the people who know all of the details and facts involved in the case. The school district is not in the position to accurately share any information.”
Quatrone said the district could be held liable for “any misinformation that is shared with the public regarding a personnel issue.”
After law enforcement officials finish their investigation, Quatrone receives official notification, he said. He then makes a recommendation of the appropriate action to the Board of Education in accordance with the guidelines of New Jersey state statutes and Administrative Code.
The Lodi board of education will meet on March 18 at 7 p.m. it is unclear if the board will address the latest arrest. In general, teachers may be suspended after arrests, but will continue to receive pay.
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