Special Ed Teacher Fired After Complaining About Understaffing, Lawsuit Says
ISELIN, N.J. — A special education teacher in Burlington County has filed a lawsuit claiming she lost her job after repeatedly complaining to school district officials about understaffing in the classroom.
Bryanna Mostak, of Hamilton, claims in court papers that understaffing and a hostile work environment in the Bordentown Regional School District forced her to take medical leave in December 2021 due to stress and anxiety. She was terminated two months later, according to the suit.
Trudy Atkins, the district’s superintendent, did not respond to a request for comment on the suit.
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Mostak, 30, taught at Clara Barton Elementary School in Bordentown and had complained for several months about the lack of classroom aides, according to the suit filed March 1 in Superior Court of Burlington County.
The suit states Mostak started at the school year in September 2021 with seven special education students and there should have been four other adults in addition to her in the classroom.
The extra workers were needed to meet staffing requirements in accordance with each child’s individualized education program, or IEP, which outlines the students’ individual needs in school, the suit states.
Mostak claims she complained on Sept. 14, 2021, to her supervisor and was then written up for an unrelated “not returning an email issue,” the suit says.
The same day, Mostak went to her union representative and afterward faced a backlash from others in the district who “piled on and added to an already existing hostile work environment” because of her whistleblowing, the suit alleges.
The lawsuit says Mostak was eventually given “unqualified” classroom aides, including one who had no prior experience with children and had previously worked at an airport.
“This aide was also seven months pregnant and I was concerned for her safety as she was not physically able to assist with the special needs, sometimes violent children,” Mostak states in the suit.
The lawsuit alleges district officials wrongfully suspended the teacher on Jan. 21, 2022, and terminated her without cause on Feb. 3, 2022.
The suit also accuses a board of education member, no longer on the board, of defaming her by publicly stating that Mostak “demonstrated a pattern of mental, physical and psychological abuse” toward children.
The board member, who is named as defendant in the lawsuit, did not respond to a request for comment.
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