Judge vacates ruling on teacher accused of using racial slur

March 2, 2020 GMT

PENNS GROVE, N.J. (AP) — A state judge has vacated an arbitrator’s ruling that a New Jersey school district cannot fire a tenured middle school teacher accused of using a racial slur in class, and a new arbitrator will now hear the case.

NJ.com reported Monday that Superior Court Judge Robert Becker Jr. issued the ruling Thursday, though it’s not clear what spurred the decision regarding Bruce Bassetti. The new arbitrator will be selected by the state’s education commissioner, but it’s not clear when that will happen or when the case will be heard.

The Penns Grove-Carneys Point Regional school board had voted last April to bring tenure charges against Bassetti. They also sought to suspend him for 120 days without pay and seek his dismissal. But arbitrator Peter Adomeit ruled last September that Bassetti was “muttering to himself” and not addressing students in his 7th grade class, so firing him was not warranted.

Bassetti, a 14-year science teacher at Penns Grove Middle School, used the slur after he confronted an unruly student, officials have said. But Bassetti has denied using the word and noted the student in question was white.