Regarding the recent article on NorthJersey.com, “Paterson Teacher fired for sending students to flush his urine”:
My name is Ron Tuitt. I am the teacher who has lived this humiliation, degradation and lie over the past 2 ½ years. I am also a former award winning journalist and know, that beyond printing the fact that Commissioner Cerf approved the Paterson School’s request to fire Mr. Tuitt, subject story of April 23, 2013 is lacking factual content from me, making it extremely inaccurate.
Because this decision has been appealed to the State Superior Court – Appelate Division, I cannot, at this time provide the facts and insight that would enable a reporter to write an accurate and balanced account. I will, however, provide the following statements in hope that it will motivate a desire for the truth.
1. I was employed by the Paterson District from February, 1996 and had been a teacher in that District for 12 ½ years when Dr. Michelle James became principal at my school. I had an unblemished record during that entire period.
2. In 2003 I was diagnosed with Lymphedema of the lower extremities, a degenerative illness that has gradually hampered my mobility. As my mobility became impaired, school administrators made certain allowances or accommodations, including allowing students and custodial staff members to provide me with assistance in getting around the school. Examples included but were not limited to parking my van, bringing me my wheelchair, picking up my mail, and more. A lengthy article was written about me by the Herald News and Bergen Record, appearing April 21, 2007. It was heavily focused on the students’ assistance.
3. My teacher ratings were always satisfactory to exceptional. All this, until Dr. Michelle James was appointed to my school beginning in school-year 2009-2010. Many actions were taken by her from the very beginning, which for now, I cannot go into.
4. On September 29, 2010, following the release of my class at the end of the school day, I suffered an episode of incontinence due to a urinary tract infection. Unable to get to the handicap bathroom (a far distance away) I had no choice but to urinate on myself while fully clothed. At no time was any part of my lower body ever exposed nor was any student exposed to this incident. Students who normally assisted me to my van each afternoon, were told by me to wait outside my classroom behind a closed door, as I felt the onset. It occurred following several requests by me to Dr. James for reassignment to a room closer to both the elevator and the handicap restroom.
5. Prior to leaving the school site that afternoon, I informed a custodial employee as to what had happened, apologized to him, and requested that it be cleaned.
6. The incident, came to the attention of Principal James that afternoon and was promptly reported to Dr. James by custodial staff. It was immediately investigated the following morning by the District’s Security head, James Smith, and determined to be an accident, a non-issue. That conclusion was provided to me in the presence of my PEA rep. While this has since been denied by investigator James Smith, the fact is that no concerns were expressed by him and I continued teaching for two months immediately following that session, receiving not even a memo as to the incident. Interestingly enough, Mr. Smith did not, according to him, take the preliminary notes as to what was or was not said at that meeting; notes that investigators normally take when interviewing someone. Therefore none were provided by him at my hearing.
7. Other than the September 29, 2010 incident, I HAVE NEVER, as has been asserted, urinated in the classroom. At no time during my almost fourteen years as a teacher in Paterson, did I ever ask a student to carry plastic bottles of urine to flush in the boys’ bathroom. I cared deeply about my students and would never have exposed them to such actions. The 80 mile round trip made by me each day to Paterson, something I could have changed at least ten years earlier, was undertaken by me because I cared deeply about those kids.
8. My doctor stated that it would be very difficult for me to urinate in a “plastic bottle” as described by the Board’s allegations but the Board and Commission apparently required “impossible.”
To the author of NorthJersey.com's article:
Mr. Tirri’s assertions as to former Principal James’ unfair treatment of me does not begin to do justice to what has really been done to me. It is my sincere hope that the information I have provided here will motivate you to want to know more about the truth. It is also my hope that your thirteen years of investigative reporting for the Star Ledger as well as your Hyperlocal Reporter’s Guide to Covering Municipal Government in New Jersey may well give you the unique insight required to accurately determine what’s occurred and what’s been done to me.
Editor's Note: The Alternative Press of Paterson has no affiliation with NorthJersey.com or the author of the article Mr. Tuitt discusses in this letter.