Fair Lawn High Teacher Allegedly Caught Berating Student on Video Resigns

William Scarnaty reached a separation agreement with the district and will be paid through June 30.

Fair Lawn High School. File photo.
Fair Lawn High School. File photo.
A Fair Lawn High School special education teacher who was allegedly caught on video telling a student "go cry to your counselor" has resigned.

The Fair Lawn Board of Education approved this week a separation agreement and the resignation of William Scarnaty, the teacher who was widely reported as being the one caught on video, though district officials wouldn't confirm the identity of the teacher caught on camera.

According to the employment separation agreement, the district will continue to pay Scarnaty through June 30, but he will not report to work. The agreement was signed by Scarnaty on Dec. 19 and approved by the school board on Monday after a closed session meeting.

Superintendent Bruce Watson and Board President Cindy Jo Quackenbush declined to comment. The agreement, obtained by Patch through an Open Public Records Act request, includes a section that states officials may not "make or solicit any comments, statements or the like to the media, the public or others that may be considered derogatory or detrimental."

In the video, the teacher appears to berate a student for something that happened before the start of the clip, saying "You're my goddamn student. You get that? I'm your teacher. Don't ever tell me what to do. You get it now? Now sit down... Now go cry to your counselor."

Watson told Patch last month that he was conducting an investigation of the incident while the teacher was out on leave. 

The Fair Lawn Board of Education policy on teaching staff discipline states "discipline measures will include verbal and written warnings as appropriate and will provide, wherever possible, for progressive penalties for repeated violations. Penalties may include suspension, withholding one or more increments, and dismissal."
Jeff January 09, 2014 at 08:54 PM
You have to be kidding! We are going to pay this person until June for his behavior? Come on FLBE- show some guts and abide by your own rules and regulations. Bad conductlike this from a kid would result in expulsion.
Ezra P. January 10, 2014 at 06:31 AM
Based on how long the various processes can take - this might have been the cheaper option... If they started dismissal procedures, then there are legal proceedings, etc. that take time and money... I do find it interesting that the agreement was reached so quickly though. The original patch report was December 18 - agreement on December 19... So - we are paying ~ $50K for him to go away.... (based on his salary reported in public records) - and by someone's calculus - this is cheaper...
Michelle Rowe January 10, 2014 at 09:21 AM
Good. Too bad we have to pay him through June though.
JIM January 10, 2014 at 09:52 AM
I understand this is not the only incident with this teacher over the years but the first which was recorded. Pay him till June, most likely the more cost effective avenue for the town. However maybe if todays students showed a little more respect to their teachers and adults in general it would not have been necessary for him to explode into a demeaning verbal assault.
Jeff January 10, 2014 at 10:09 AM
Sadly, paying would be the least expensive way to rid the school system of this person. Many of our friends teach in FL and while they are reluctant to speak about Scarnaty directly, no one seems upset that he is no longer teaching. Does anyone know if this is reportable to the DOE? I would hate to see him land a job somewhere else where he can do the same thing to other kids.
FLMOM January 10, 2014 at 04:22 PM
Screw the "cheap way out". FAIR LAWN, get some balls and do the right thing!!! This is a disgrace!
Jeff January 10, 2014 at 04:36 PM
Maybe when the next school board election comes up, this could be a candidate issue. Would like to see the debate this would cause and the audience reaction to their comments.
Andrew Lehrhoff January 10, 2014 at 05:33 PM
it was not respect JIM it was the kid in the video. The teacher was using his phone during his class period 5 when he is not spoose to and saw something and just said "shit" and the kid in the video said "don't say that" and that is how the video started
FLMOM January 10, 2014 at 05:50 PM
I am going to go to the next meeting. When is it?
Randy Feldman January 10, 2014 at 05:53 PM
This clown also assaulted one of our kids and the board of education covered it up. They need to be held accountable. But they won't. The arrogance that permeates from our elected officials in this community is disgusting. They're special. Rules don't apply to them. Even their own!
Jeff January 10, 2014 at 06:25 PM
When a superintendent is hired by the district, it is incumbent that he exercise his authority to provide the best education possible in a safe and secure environment. A teacher is an employee of the school district and is bound to observe proper behavior and act in a manner that protects the children in his/her care from inappropriate behavior. To insure this, the superintendent and those he delegates have the responsibility to validate a teacher's ongoing qualification to perform in an educational setting. Clearly, the parents of FL have the right to an open presentation of the facts and that we should be allowed to voice our opinions regarding this matter and those responsible for adjudicating this situation (i.e. Bruce Watson) should be held equally accountable given there is a long line of negative evidence regarding this teacher.
Tatiana Gosteva January 11, 2014 at 02:54 AM
If the misconduct has been found in this incident , why no apologies are being offered? Do parents send their kids to school to wait for a teacher to finish his email/txt, swear and then maybe start teaching? And what exactly his students are learning from his "presentations"? BTW, great way to spend $50K ...how about some bonus?
Jeff January 11, 2014 at 10:50 AM
It is my understanding having spoken to a number of teachers that by resigning, Scarnaty's real bonus is that he can continue to teach in another district. He avoids any action against his teaching license and any public disclosure from the FLBOE investigation is not going to happen. So, while we are paying him for his 6-month vacation, he can seek other employment as a teacher as well as work as a sub or find a new job as a teacher. Since there is no indication that Trenton is going to investigate this, by this time next year he can be teaching somewhere else in the Garden State.
Randy Feldman January 11, 2014 at 01:39 PM
The people that run this community never apologies for their assine decisions or mistakes. That's because they're special. They are royalty and their arrangance shows every time they open their big fat stupid mouths. People need to loose their jobs over this. Let's start with Watson and Marcella.
FLMOM January 12, 2014 at 09:07 AM
We need to ensure that this moron NEVER works as a teacher AGAIN!! If he abuses students, he will continue!
FLMOM January 12, 2014 at 09:08 AM
I agree, where is the PUBLIC APOLOGY?????
Concerned person January 12, 2014 at 02:25 PM
The whole Fair Lawn education administration from the Superintendent to the principals and vice principals in the high school are more concerned about getting a pay check than caring about the kids. Watson has been a financial burden on this town for too long and his weak leadership has finally seeped down to the high school. When you are more concerned with not pissing off the parents of students versus making tough choices and steering these kids in the right direction you have a problem.
Paquas January 13, 2014 at 08:46 AM
The teacher deserved to be reprimanded; whether a resignation was called for may take into account other factors such as his past history in the system. What I find reprehensible is the fact that there was no disinplinary action taken against the student that made the video-there is specific regulations that forbid the use of cell phones during class. Seems like the board and the administration are overly sensitive about creating an image by enforcing existing regulations. This is typical of the high school and the board of education. Teacher morale at the high school is probably at a new low-- if anyone cares!!! Where is the support for the many good, conscientious teachers?
Paquas January 13, 2014 at 08:48 AM
Adding to my previous comment: It appears that our eductational system is not teaching that there are consequences for violating regulations. It is about time that students were taught that they are responsible for the consequences of their actions.
Deleted because of harassment January 13, 2014 at 08:51 PM
SO you want the kid who documented the abuses to be punished for using a cellphone in class? If he had not, there would be no way for the bully to have been caught in the act. Oh, yeah, that's a positive position to take - punish someone who tries to help stop a bully... And then people have to wonder why all the covering up of his past transgressions that almost let him continue in the same vein. And why complaints seem to fall on deaf institutional ears.
jim January 14, 2014 at 07:31 AM
yes deleted the kid using the cell phone should be reprimanded as well as other students in the class. the incident on film captured 10 seconds of the whole story. the teacher cursed after he found out a good friend of his sister had passed away (he will admit he shouldnt have), the special needs child than told the teacher not to curse. the teacher then CALMLY told the student he shouldnt have cursed but its also not the students place to tell him what to do. now the other students with severe disciplinary problems saw this as an opportunity and encouraged the special needs child to continue to provoke the teacher about what had happened. do you think it was a coincidence they happened to be filming at that time? nope they told the kid to keep going up there and provoking the teacher. granted the teacher shouldnt have snapped like he did, the other students were taking advantage of this student. there is a much deeper issue/problem here and that is the FLHS administration. fair lawn gets extra money for the classified kids and want to keep them in the school even if they cant handle them and provide them with the environment they need. so they stick a kids with special needs in the same classes as kids who have severe behavioral issues making it nearly impossible for a teacher to get anything done. this is extra stressful for the teachers with the new evaluation system because FL puts kids who shouldnt be in our school with problem children basically setting the teacher up for failure. the typical classroom has 1 or 2 wise guys and 20 good kids looking to learn. this guy gets 10 kids with severe behavioral issues who do not care about learning combined with a hand full of students with severe learning disabilities. the administration uses teachers like him as a babysitter and stick all these kids in one classroom so they can continue to collect money on the classified kids who would be better off in a different school. the school looks good from the outside because we get ranked and we get rewards but if you dug deeper you realize the school is doing a disservice to many special needs children by sticking them in classrooms with kids with behavioral problems where no one is learning much of anything because the teacher is busy trying to maintain order. maybe the administration decided to get this issue over with and quickly pay this teacher because if there was a deep investigation people would realize the administration is the real problem.
Deleted because of harassment January 21, 2014 at 08:51 PM
The administration is not the real problem. And you don't have a clue as to what goes on in a special needs classroom or the nature of the students in it. You want to defend a supposed educator that responds to a student with a brain injury with a profanity and a threat? Go ahead...you've already dug yourself a hole with siding with someone not competent enough to control himself while pigeonholing students as if they were a room full of thugs and not being taught by one who acted like one.
jim January 22, 2014 at 08:39 AM
haha, clearly you do not know what goes on in the "special needs" classrooms. there are different types of learning disabilities and more severe cases, some that flhs arent equipped to handle but they wont admit it because they get extra funding for them. i dont call them thugs but some students do not have special needs and/or metal issues, they just have severe behavioral issues and it is a FACT that those students are grouped in with special needs children and that doesnt benefit either of them (it actually hurts them). im not defending anyone, i said the teach was wrong to behave like that. people like you will complain and make a huge deal out of a 10 sec video clip and demand this teacher gets fired, but that does not fix the real problem. i like how you claim i dont know what im talking about when its clear you have no clue. i work with special needs children out of school and have seen the classrooms they are put in. i work with a kid who has severe autism and he is in a classroom with a few kids with slight ADD and a bunch of trouble makers, the teachers are too busy babysitting the troublemakers to give him the attention he needs. the child i work with gets nothing out of being in the class. go sit in on a class or get some first hand knowledge before you start typing.
Jeff January 22, 2014 at 05:33 PM
Jim - sadly you are highly inaccurate in your description. First of all, if you work with special needs kids, then you know that each has an IEP that, by law, must be followed followed by all those involved in the child's education. If they don't, then the person is at risk for both disciplinary and legal action. I am assuming that you have a special education certification based upon your stated work experience, so you can appreciate that there is a spectrum of needs that define special education. In no case should a person who has over 2 decades of experience be allowed to behave as he did no matter how much the student pushed him. As to your comment that the students are lumped together, that is the fault of the school and they do bear a great deal of responsibility for not providing the accommodations needed to properly educate the student. In fact, there is a great deal of fault here - school administration and the teacher both. But as someone who is quite familiar with this matter, a teacher who is in over his or her head has only to pick up the intercom and call for help, or send the student to the office before losing control of himself and the classroom.


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