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TheDr.

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Jul 11, 2001, 10:02:01 PM7/11/01
to
It was a pay site so I couldn't just link it, and since I am hopelessly
inept with web stuff, the best I could do was post them. Basically, they
searched her house because her bf was selling crack. She was 37, he was 23
(Hey, I don't let them *live* with me!). He did three years in jail. They
didn't get much on her, and eventually all charges against her were dropped.
She was reinstated, but to the middle school, to which she objected. She
sued for damages, claiming her suspension while she was formally charged was
racially motivated because she was carrying a black man's child.

She settled for a total of $300K, 190 from the county prosecutor's office,
110 from the school district. She's *still* at the middle school, and sent a
boy I know to the principal because she overheard him responding to another
boy's question about her *true* history with a truthful response. First she
flipped on him, though.

These get a bit redundant, but I didn't want to edit them in case she comes
after me:-) Scan if you wish.

P -
----------------------------------------------------------
Press of Atlantic City, The (NJ)
January 9, 1991
Section: Regional
Edition: Cape
Page: B3


CAPE SCHOOL BOARD TO RULE ON SUSPENSION / INDICTED TEACHER DISMISSED WITH
PAY

YVETTE CRAIG Staff Writer
Members of the Lower Cape May Regional High School Board of Education will
decide Thursday whether to continue to suspend a 15-year veteran teacher
with or without pay following her recent indictment on drug charges.


Linda Merlino, 37, was indicted in December on charges of possession of drug
paraphernalia with intent to distribute, according to Cape May County First
Assistant Prosecutor Robert G. Wells.
The indictment stems from her arrest at her home on Washington Street in
Cape May, at which time the school board suspended her with pay, officials
said.

Merlino, who has worked in the district for 15 years as a social studies
teacher, is under indictment with Keith Marshall, 23, and Robert Yeager, 21,
both of the Town Bank section of Lower Township. The two men are charged
with three counts each of distribution of cocaine.

On Monday, Merlino entered a plea of not guilty during her arraignment
before Superior Court Judge James A. O'Neill.

During a 7 p.m. meeting Thursday, the LCMR Board of Education is expected to
review Merlino's situation and determine whether it should continue to pay
her pending the outcome of the case.

"We will go into closed session and review the status of the case,"
Superintendent Richard M. Strauss said Tuesday. "We know she had an
arraignment Monday. Depending on the outcome, the board will decide whether
to continue her suspension with or without pay."

Merlino and her attorney have been invited to attend Thursday's board
meeting, Strauss said.

----------------------------------------------------------
Press of Atlantic City, The (NJ)
January 11, 1991
Section: Regional
Edition: Cape
Page: B1


LCMR BOARD SUSPENDS PAY OF TEACHER FACING DRUG CHARGES

YVETTE CRAIG Staff Writer
A tenured teacher was suspended without pay Thursday night by members of the
Lower Cape May Regional High School Board of Education, pending the outcome
of her alleged drug charges in court.


Linda Merlino, 37, sat tearfully with her attorney Thursday night as the
board voted to take away her salary during her suspension. Two of the
nine-member board, Michael Craig and David Robinson, voted against the
decision.
The action comes almost a month after Merlino, who is
eight-and-a-half-months pregnant, was indicted by a Cape May grand jury on a
charge of possession of drug paraphernalia with intent to distribute.

She referred all questions Thursday to her lawyer Michael Sorensen.

Sorensen said Merlino was wrongfully accused of the crime.

"They will do anything and everything they can to keep her from teaching in
the school," said Sorensen of the board's decision. "I don't think they've
based their decision on what she's been charged with. I think they have
finally found something that they can hang their hats on and try and get her
out of the school."

Sorensen said he could not specify his charge of the board wanting to get
rid of Merlino other than, "basically, someone dislikes her and wants her
out."

"That's absolutely absurd," Board President Delton R. Brooks said of the
charge. "He (Sorensen) seems to be forgetting that the Cape May County grand
jury issued a indictment against her."

The board took about 30 minutes in closed session to make their decision.

"It's the indictment by the grand jury - that's a serious charge," Brooks
added. "This is one of the few times you can suspend a teacher without pay
because of involvement with drugs. The board felt it was a prudent thing to
do."

Merlino's indictment was grouped with two others. She is under indictment
with Keith Marshall, 23, and Robert Yeager, 21, both of the township's Town
Bank section. The two men are charged with three counts each of distribution
of cocaine.

Merlino, a 15-year veteran social studies teacher, was arrested at her Cape
May home in November, at which time the board immediately suspended her with
pay, school officials said.

Authorities said several "crack vials" were found in her home, along with
two firearms, prior to her arrest.

Sorensen said his client has filed for a pre-trial intervention with the
courts.

If the court grants the order, Merlino would be put on a six-month
diversionary program. At the end of the allotted time, the charges could be
dismissed, Sorensen said.

---------------------------------------------------------
Press of Atlantic City, The (NJ)
June 2, 1992
Section: Region
Edition: Cape May
Page: B2


CAPE TEACHER, FOUND INNOCENT, RETURNS TO WORK

THOMAS BARLAS Staff Writer
A Lower Cape May Regional High School teacher returned to work Monday after
being found innocent in Superior Court last week of an alleged narcotics
offense.


Superior Court Judge John F. Callanan found Linda Merlino of Cape May
innocent Wednesday of the disorderly persons offense of possession of drug
paraphernalia, according to Merlino's attorney.
Callanan in March dismissed charges of possession of drug paraphernalia with
the intent to distribute and receiving stolen property contained in an
indictment lodged against Merlino in December 1990, the attorney said.

The Lower Cape May Regional Board of Education voted Thursday to reinstate
Merlino, a history teacher at the high school since 1976, as of Monday.

The board suspended Merlino with pay after her indictment was handed up. The
board subsequently voted Jan. 9, 1991, to suspend Merlino without pay.

The panel made no decision regarding whether to reimburse Merlino for the
pay she lost during the suspension, according to Board of Education Business
Administrator-Secretary Jack Pfizenmayer.

The panel is waiting for a ruling on the issue from Board of Education
Solicitor Peter Tourisn, he said.

Merlino said "the last two years have been a nightmare," according to a
prepared statement released Monday by her attorney, W.A. DeStefano of
Philadelphia.

"I was facing criminal charges for crimes I did not commit," Merlino
maintains in the statement. "I was suspended without pay and unable to find
temporary work because everyone thought I was involved with drugs."

The indictment stemmed from a search of Merlino's apartment in November 1990
by investigators assigned to the Cape May County Prosecutor's Office.

Authorities said several "crack vials" were found in her home, along with
two firearms, prior to her arrest in November 1990.

Indicted along with Merlino were Town Bank, Lower Township, residents Keith
Marshall and Robert Yeager. Marshall and Yeager were each indicted on three
counts of distribution of cocaine.

No information was available Monday regarding the status of the case against
Marshall and Yeager.

---------------------------------------------------------
Press of Atlantic City, The (NJ)
August 31, 1993
Section: Region
Edition: Cape May
Page: C1


TEACHER REGAINS COACH'S POSITION

MEG TORNETTA Staff Writer
*Lower Cape May Regional school officials must reinstate formerly suspended
teacher Linda Merlino to her job as cheerleading coach, despite objections
from some parents and students.


An arbitrator has ruled that Linda A. Merlino be reinstated as head football
cheerleading coach at Lower Cape May Regional High School and that the
district compensate her for not naming her coach last year.
The decision angered some parents, who protested the reinstatement of
Merlino at a recent school board meeting.

But Merlino's attorney, William A. DeStefano, said in an interview Monday
that his client was only seeking what was rightfully hers.

"She is certainly happy. The school district acted wrong in denying her the
position and she was 100 percent vindicated in arbitration," DeStefano said.

Four members of the Lower Cape May Regional High School cheerleading squad
sobbed during Thursday's school board meeting as parents demanded that Mary
Rose Bispels, who was named head cheerleading coach in June, be permitted to
coach.

Bispels has been coaching the squad for about two years, according to school
board officials.

Merlino had coached for 10 years before her suspension from the school
district in November 1990 for an indictment on a drug charge.

She was found innocent of the charge of possession of drug paraphernalia in
May 1992.

After the ruling made by Superior Court Judge John Callinan, Merlino was
reinstated to her job as a teacher in June 1992.

Merlino filed a grievance to be reinstated as head cheerleading coach in
October and several weeks ago, an arbitrator ruled that she be reinstated.

The decision reached by arbitrator John M. Stochaj stated:

"For the 1992-93 football season, the grievant (Merlino) was denied an
opportunity to continue as Head Football Cheerleader Advisor because of a
series of odd circumstances which are not understood by this Arbitrator and
can not be explained away. Given the circumstances, the Board will be
ordered to compensate, at the appropriate rate, the grievant for this lost
opportunity."

DeStefano said Merlino applied for the head cheerleading coach position for
the 1992-1993 school year, but the district claimed it never received her
application.

In his ruling, Stochaj found "it extraordinary that two members of the
administration would lose a letter of application.";

The arbitrator also wrote that "Concerning the 1993-1994 season, in
accordance to the provision of the contract, again, the grievant (Merlino)
did not resign and again a vacancy does not exist and preference will be
given to one holding the job absent an unsatisfactory performance. In this
case, preference is to be given to Linda Merlino."

According to DeStefano, Merlino never resigned as head cheerleading coach
and should have been given back the job.

But the decision to reinstate Merlino angered some.

"Ms. Bispels has been there for these girls throughout thick and thin. These
girls confide in her. They love her," Linda Deserable told the school board
during the Thursday night meeting. "We as parents are supporting our
children. This is not fair to them," she said.

School board vice president Michael Craig explained the grievance procedure
to those in attendance at the beginning of the meeting and told them that
the decision of the arbitrator was "binding" and that the board hoped that
"the parents and the girls on the cheerleading squad will work with
(Merlino)."

Craig explained that in a grievance procedure, the grievance first goes
through the principal, the superintendent and the school board.

"Throughout the whole process, the grievance was denied," he said.

Suprintendent Richard Strauss said the board is obligated to abide by the
decision of the arbitrator.

"The board has been placed in a very difficult situation. The board,
regardless of whether they agree with the decision, is bound by the
obligation to follow through on the recommendation of that decision," he
said.

Cheerleaders Darlene Deserable, Amanda Robinson, Melissa Muller and Angie
Coughlin attended the meeting and sobbed frequently.

Darlene Deserable said the girls work well under Bispels and want her as
their cheerleading coach.

"It's not fair. I don't think an outside person should make a decision
that's going to affect us," she said.

Other parents, including Teri Robinson and Linda McGann Coughlin, pleaded
with the board to keep Bispels as coach.

After first saying there was nothing they could do about the decision, the
board decided to go into closed session and asked the audience not to leave
for the night.

The board then went into closed session for about a half-hour.

Upon their return, School Board President David Robinson told the parents he
would like them to form a committee so the issue could be further pursued.

"We have to solve this problem and we have to solve it right because the
bottom line is the kids. We have some option that we're exploring. It might
not be what you want, but it might be satisfying to everybody."

----------------------------------------------------------
Press of Atlantic City, The (NJ)
January 20, 1999
Section: Region
Edition: Cape May / Ocean
Page: C4


SUIT AGAINST LCMR BY TEACHER ALLEGING RACIAL BIAS BEGINS

W.F. KEOUGH Staff Writer
A former Lower Cape May Regional High School teacher lost her job because
she was openly dating a black man and school officials didn't like it, her
attorney told a federal jury Tuesday.


Linda Merlino, 45, of Cape May, is suing the school district, which
suspended her in 1991 after she was indicted on drug and theft charges.
In a federal civil-rights lawsuit filed in 1994, Merlino alleged the
suspension and indictments were racially motivated. She also claimed that
school officials and five members of the Cape May County Prosecutor's
Office - under then-Prosecutor John Corino - "conspired" to use the charges
to get her to quit.

"They wanted her out, but she had tenure," Merlino's attorney William
DeStefano told the jury. "So they used these trumped-up charges to coerce
her."

The indictable charges were later dropped, and Merlino was reinstated in
1993, but reassigned to teach at the middle school. She has been unable to
regain her position at the high school, where she taught history, coached
varsity cheerleading and advised the student government.

Late last year, Cape May County officials agreed to pay Merlino $190,000 to
settle her claim against five members of the Prosecutor's Office.

On Tuesday, the eight-member jury, consisting of five women and three men,
heard opening arguments on Merlino's remaining claims against the school
board.

School officials have denied any racial motivation in suspending Merlino
after she and her boyfriend Keith Marshall were indicted.

Jack Dugan, the school board's attorney, said the board acted properly when
it learned a teacher had been criminally charged. In his opening remarks,
Dugan referred to Marshall as "the drug dealer with whom (Merlino) was
living."

Marshall pleaded guilty to selling drugs in a school zone following the
indictments and was sentenced to three years in prison.

Dugan said that since Merlino and Marshall were living together, a November
1990 drug raid targeted Merlino's apartment and her car, which Marshall
used.

"Linda Merlino either participated, condoned or, at the very least,
overlooked the drug business which Keith Marshall was operating in her home
and car," Dugan said.

Merlino, who was the first witness to take the stand Tuesday, disputed that
claim, telling the jury she thought Marshall was using her car to look for a
job or travel to his mother's home in Philadelphia.

And DeStefano said he would show that a prosecutor's agent lied to a grand
jury when presenting evidence for the indictment. The investigator said that
"hundreds" of glassine bags and small vials were found in Merlino's home,
DeStefano said. In fact, there were "five or six" of each, found in a
kitchen drawer, he said.

DeStefano also promised to show the jury evidence of a conspiracy between
prosecutors and the school board. DeStefano said that in several instances,
school officials promised Merlino the criminal charges would be dropped if
she quit. School officials don't have the power to get criminal charges
dismissed, he said.

Dugan countered that school officials were acting in their official
capacity - not acting out a racial vendetta - in dealing with the criminal
charges that arose in 1991. Superintendent of Schools Richard Strauss, who
is named in the lawsuit, was present at Tuesday's trial. Dugan said Strauss
has worked "his entire life" in education. Other officials, he said were
acting according to their legal responsibilities as board members and
attorneys.

And Merlino was reinstated promptly after the last remaining charge was
dismissed, Dugan said.

"She (Merlino) has never comprehended the fact that she was charged with two
indictable offenses," Dugan said.

In addition to the school board, Merlino's lawsuit names as defendants
former board members Delton Brooks, Arlene MacDonald and William Hevener, as
well as Superintendent Richard Strauss and board Solicitor Peter Tourison.

U.S. District Court Judge Jerome Simandle is presiding at the trial, which
is expected to last roughly two weeks.
--------------------------------------------------------
Press of Atlantic City, The (NJ)
February 3, 1999
Section: Region
Edition: Cape May
Page: C1
Correction: Published clarification ran Tuesday, February 16, 1999, page C1,
Cape May County edition.

Region: Former Lower Cape May Regional Board of Education members William
Hevener, Arlene MacDonald and Delton Brooks were dropped as personal
defendants in a lawsuit by teacher Linda Merlino before the board reached
settlement with Merlino in January.


LCMR SCHOOLS, TEACHER SETTLE CIVIL-RIGHTS SUIT

JEANNE DEWEY and MICHAEL DIAMOND Staff Writers
A financial settlement was reached in the federal-civil rights case of a
white Lower Cape May Regional school district teacher who charged the Board
of Education fired her because she was openly dating a black man and was
pregnant with his child.


Attorneys for both sides agreed not to reveal how much the school board will
pay Linda Merlino, despite a N.J. Supreme Court ruling that public agencies
cannot enter into secret settlements.
In a case brought by The Press of Atlantic City against the authority that
operates the Atlantic City Expressway, the court ruled that once a matter is
concluded, even closed-session minutes must be made available for public
review. Judges in that and other cases have determined the public is
entitled to know how public money is being spent.

Merlino, 45, of Cape May, sued the LCMR Board of Education, which suspended
her from her high school teaching job in 1991 after she was indicted on drug
and theft charges. In a 1994 lawsuit, Merlino alleged the suspension and
indictments were racially motivated.

William DeStefano, Merlino's attorney, said Tuesday that a settlement was
reached before closing arguments were made and after testimony wound up in
Merlino's trial, which began Jan. 19 in U.S. District Court in Camden.

"The school board's counsel insisted at least that the settlement amount
remain confidential," said DeStefano, who nevertheless acknowledged that he
believes the amount is required to be disclosed because it will be paid by a
public body.

DeStefano said Merlino was pleased with the size of the settlement.

"Most of her damages were for embarrassment and defamation," DeStefano said.
"Sometimes the amount of those damages are in the eye of the beholder."

John Duggan, the attorney who represented the school board and other
defendants, did not return three telephone messages seeking comment Tuesday.

In a faxed request, The Press asked Duggan to provide the newspaper with the
terms of the settlement, citing a 1995 case in which Superior Court Judge
Richard Williams ordered the Atlantic County Utilities Authority to reveal
terms of a $250,000 confidential settlement it reached with an employee who
charged she was sexually harassed.

The Press took a similar case against the N.J. Expressway Authority to the
state Supreme Court, which ruled the newspaper had a right to closed-session
minutes, as well as terms of a confidential buyout with the authority's
executive director.

Late last year, the Cape May County Board of Chosen Freeholders approved in
a public meeting a $190,000 payment to Merlino to settle her claim against
five members of the Prosecutor's Office. Merlino had charged school
officials and five members of the Prosecutor's Office conspired to use the
charges to get her to quit.

LCMR school officials denied racial motivation in suspending Merlino after
she and then-boyfriend Keith Marshall were indicted. Duggan said the board
acted properly when it learned a teacher had been criminally charged.

The indictable charges against Merlino later were dropped and Merlino was
reinstated as a teacher in 1993, reassigned to the middle school and awarded
back pay.

Merlino has been unable to regain her position at the high school, where she
taught history, coached varsity cheerleading and advised the student
government. DeStefano said the settlement did not address where Merlino
works.

"They'll at least treat her fairly" if Merlino applies for an opening at the
high school, DeStefano said.

In addition to the school board, Merlino's lawsuit named as defendants
former board members Delton Brooks, Arlene MacDonald and William Hevener, as
well as Superintendent Richard Strauss and former board solicitor Peter
Tourison.

----------------------------------------------------------

Press of Atlantic City, The (NJ)
February 4, 1999
Section: Region
Edition: Cape May
Page: C1


LCMR TEACHER GETS $110,000 SETTLEMENT

JEANNE DEWEY And MICHAEL DIAMOND Staff Writers
The Lower Cape May Regional Board of Education agreed to pay a teacher
$110,000 to settle a federal civil-rights case in which the teacher, who is
white, charged the Board of Education fired her because she was openly
dating a black man and was pregnant with his child.


The settlement, along with $190,000 from the Cape May County Board of Chosen
Freeholders, brings to $300,000 the amount of Linda Merlino's award.
The school board unanimously voted to approve the settlement at its meeting
Thursday, district Superintendent Richard Strauss said. The bulk of the
settlement will be paid by insurance, according to John Duggan, the attorney
who represented the school board.

"The settlement provides that it has been entered into to avoid additional
costs and expenses associated with litigation and does not represent an
admission of responsibility as to any of the parties," Duggan said in a
faxed statement.

"It's a relief not to have it hanging over us," school board President David
Robinson said.

No members of the public were present when the board voted on the amount in
open session at about 9:30 p.m. Thursday after discussing the matter in
closed session, Strauss said.

Duggan and William DeStefano, Merlino's attorney, agreed to settle the case
on Jan. 27, just before closing arguments were to be made in Merlino's trial
in U.S. District Court in Camden.

The LCMR Board of Education suspended Merlino from her high school teaching
job in 1991 after she was indicted on drug and theft charges. In a 1994
lawsuit against the board and the Prosecutor's Office, Merlino, 45, of Cape
May, alleged her suspension and the indictments were racially motivated and
that school officials and prosecutors conspired to use the criminal charges
to force her to quit her job.

Late last year, county freeholders approved in a public meeting a $190,000
payment to Merlino to settle her claim against five members of the
Prosecutor's Office.

The indictable charges against Merlino later were dropped and Merlino was
reinstated as a teacher in 1993, reassigned to the middle school and awarded
back pay. Merlino continues to teach at the middle school.
-----------------------------------------------------


Press of Atlantic City, The (NJ)
January 9, 1991
Section: Regional
Edition: Cape
Page: B3


CAPE SCHOOL BOARD TO RULE ON SUSPENSION / INDICTED TEACHER DISMISSED WITH
PAY

YVETTE CRAIG Staff Writer
Members of the Lower Cape May Regional High School Board of Education will
decide Thursday whether to continue to suspend a 15-year veteran teacher
with or without pay following her recent indictment on drug charges.


Linda Merlino, 37, was indicted in December on charges of possession of drug
paraphernalia with intent to distribute, according to Cape May County First
Assistant Prosecutor Robert G. Wells.
The indictment stems from her arrest at her home on Washington Street in
Cape May, at which time the school board suspended her with pay, officials
said.

Merlino, who has worked in the district for 15 years as a social studies
teacher, is under indictment with Keith Marshall, 23, and Robert Yeager, 21,
both of the Town Bank section of Lower Township. The two men are charged
with three counts each of distribution of cocaine.

On Monday, Merlino entered a plea of not guilty during her arraignment
before Superior Court Judge James A. O'Neill.

During a 7 p.m. meeting Thursday, the LCMR Board of Education is expected to
review Merlino's situation and determine whether it should continue to pay
her pending the outcome of the case.

"We will go into closed session and review the status of the case,"
Superintendent Richard M. Strauss said Tuesday. "We know she had an
arraignment Monday. Depending on the outcome, the board will decide whether
to continue her suspension with or without pay."

Merlino and her attorney have been invited to attend Thursday's board
meeting, Strauss said.

----------------------------------------------------------
Press of Atlantic City, The (NJ)
January 11, 1991
Section: Regional
Edition: Cape
Page: B1


LCMR BOARD SUSPENDS PAY OF TEACHER FACING DRUG CHARGES

YVETTE CRAIG Staff Writer
A tenured teacher was suspended without pay Thursday night by members of the
Lower Cape May Regional High School Board of Education, pending the outcome
of her alleged drug charges in court.


Linda Merlino, 37, sat tearfully with her attorney Thursday night as the
board voted to take away her salary during her suspension. Two of the
nine-member board, Michael Craig and David Robinson, voted against the
decision.
The action comes almost a month after Merlino, who is
eight-and-a-half-months pregnant, was indicted by a Cape May grand jury on a
charge of possession of drug paraphernalia with intent to distribute.

She referred all questions Thursday to her lawyer Michael Sorensen.

Sorensen said Merlino was wrongfully accused of the crime.

"They will do anything and everything they can to keep her from teaching in
the school," said Sorensen of the board's decision. "I don't think they've
based their decision on what she's been charged with. I think they have
finally found something that they can hang their hats on and try and get her
out of the school."

Sorensen said he could not specify his charge of the board wanting to get
rid of Merlino other than, "basically, someone dislikes her and wants her
out."

"That's absolutely absurd," Board President Delton R. Brooks said of the
charge. "He (Sorensen) seems to be forgetting that the Cape May County grand
jury issued a indictment against her."

The board took about 30 minutes in closed session to make their decision.

"It's the indictment by the grand jury - that's a serious charge," Brooks
added. "This is one of the few times you can suspend a teacher without pay
because of involvement with drugs. The board felt it was a prudent thing to
do."

Merlino's indictment was grouped with two others. She is under indictment
with Keith Marshall, 23, and Robert Yeager, 21, both of the township's Town
Bank section. The two men are charged with three counts each of distribution
of cocaine.

Merlino, a 15-year veteran social studies teacher, was arrested at her Cape
May home in November, at which time the board immediately suspended her with
pay, school officials said.

Authorities said several "crack vials" were found in her home, along with
two firearms, prior to her arrest.

Sorensen said his client has filed for a pre-trial intervention with the
courts.

If the court grants the order, Merlino would be put on a six-month
diversionary program. At the end of the allotted time, the charges could be
dismissed, Sorensen said.

---------------------------------------------------------
Press of Atlantic City, The (NJ)
June 2, 1992
Section: Region
Edition: Cape May
Page: B2


CAPE TEACHER, FOUND INNOCENT, RETURNS TO WORK

THOMAS BARLAS Staff Writer
A Lower Cape May Regional High School teacher returned to work Monday after
being found innocent in Superior Court last week of an alleged narcotics
offense.


Superior Court Judge John F. Callanan found Linda Merlino of Cape May
innocent Wednesday of the disorderly persons offense of possession of drug
paraphernalia, according to Merlino's attorney.
Callanan in March dismissed charges of possession of drug paraphernalia with
the intent to distribute and receiving stolen property contained in an
indictment lodged against Merlino in December 1990, the attorney said.

The Lower Cape May Regional Board of Education voted Thursday to reinstate
Merlino, a history teacher at the high school since 1976, as of Monday.

The board suspended Merlino with pay after her indictment was handed up. The
board subsequently voted Jan. 9, 1991, to suspend Merlino without pay.

The panel made no decision regarding whether to reimburse Merlino for the
pay she lost during the suspension, according to Board of Education Business
Administrator-Secretary Jack Pfizenmayer.

The panel is waiting for a ruling on the issue from Board of Education
Solicitor Peter Tourisn, he said.

Merlino said "the last two years have been a nightmare," according to a
prepared statement released Monday by her attorney, W.A. DeStefano of
Philadelphia.

"I was facing criminal charges for crimes I did not commit," Merlino
maintains in the statement. "I was suspended without pay and unable to find
temporary work because everyone thought I was involved with drugs."

The indictment stemmed from a search of Merlino's apartment in November 1990
by investigators assigned to the Cape May County Prosecutor's Office.

Authorities said several "crack vials" were found in her home, along with
two firearms, prior to her arrest in November 1990.

Indicted along with Merlino were Town Bank, Lower Township, residents Keith
Marshall and Robert Yeager. Marshall and Yeager were each indicted on three
counts of distribution of cocaine.

No information was available Monday regarding the status of the case against
Marshall and Yeager.

---------------------------------------------------------
Press of Atlantic City, The (NJ)
August 31, 1993
Section: Region
Edition: Cape May
Page: C1


TEACHER REGAINS COACH'S POSITION

MEG TORNETTA Staff Writer
*Lower Cape May Regional school officials must reinstate formerly suspended
teacher Linda Merlino to her job as cheerleading coach, despite objections
from some parents and students.


An arbitrator has ruled that Linda A. Merlino be reinstated as head football
cheerleading coach at Lower Cape May Regional High School and that the
district compensate her for not naming her coach last year.
The decision angered some parents, who protested the reinstatement of
Merlino at a recent school board meeting.

But Merlino's attorney, William A. DeStefano, said in an interview Monday
that his client was only seeking what was rightfully hers.

"She is certainly happy. The school district acted wrong in denying her the
position and she was 100 percent vindicated in arbitration," DeStefano said.

Four members of the Lower Cape May Regional High School cheerleading squad
sobbed during Thursday's school board meeting as parents demanded that Mary
Rose Bispels, who was named head cheerleading coach in June, be permitted to
coach.

Bispels has been coaching the squad for about two years, according to school
board officials.

Merlino had coached for 10 years before her suspension from the school
district in November 1990 for an indictment on a drug charge.

She was found innocent of the charge of possession of drug paraphernalia in
May 1992.

After the ruling made by Superior Court Judge John Callinan, Merlino was
reinstated to her job as a teacher in June 1992.

Merlino filed a grievance to be reinstated as head cheerleading coach in
October and several weeks ago, an arbitrator ruled that she be reinstated.

The decision reached by arbitrator John M. Stochaj stated:

"For the 1992-93 football season, the grievant (Merlino) was denied an
opportunity to continue as Head Football Cheerleader Advisor because of a
series of odd circumstances which are not understood by this Arbitrator and
can not be explained away. Given the circumstances, the Board will be
ordered to compensate, at the appropriate rate, the grievant for this lost
opportunity."

DeStefano said Merlino applied for the head cheerleading coach position for
the 1992-1993 school year, but the district claimed it never received her
application.

In his ruling, Stochaj found "it extraordinary that two members of the
administration would lose a letter of application.";

The arbitrator also wrote that "Concerning the 1993-1994 season, in
accordance to the provision of the contract, again, the grievant (Merlino)
did not resign and again a vacancy does not exist and preference will be
given to one holding the job absent an unsatisfactory performance. In this
case, preference is to be given to Linda Merlino."

According to DeStefano, Merlino never resigned as head cheerleading coach
and should have been given back the job.

But the decision to reinstate Merlino angered some.

"Ms. Bispels has been there for these girls throughout thick and thin. These
girls confide in her. They love her," Linda Deserable told the school board
during the Thursday night meeting. "We as parents are supporting our
children. This is not fair to them," she said.

School board vice president Michael Craig explained the grievance procedure
to those in attendance at the beginning of the meeting and told them that
the decision of the arbitrator was "binding" and that the board hoped that
"the parents and the girls on the cheerleading squad will work with
(Merlino)."

Craig explained that in a grievance procedure, the grievance first goes
through the principal, the superintendent and the school board.

"Throughout the whole process, the grievance was denied," he said.

Suprintendent Richard Strauss said the board is obligated to abide by the
decision of the arbitrator.

"The board has been placed in a very difficult situation. The board,
regardless of whether they agree with the decision, is bound by the
obligation to follow through on the recommendation of that decision," he
said.

Cheerleaders Darlene Deserable, Amanda Robinson, Melissa Muller and Angie
Coughlin attended the meeting and sobbed frequently.

Darlene Deserable said the girls work well under Bispels and want her as
their cheerleading coach.

"It's not fair. I don't think an outside person should make a decision
that's going to affect us," she said.

Other parents, including Teri Robinson and Linda McGann Coughlin, pleaded
with the board to keep Bispels as coach.

After first saying there was nothing they could do about the decision, the
board decided to go into closed session and asked the audience not to leave
for the night.

The board then went into closed session for about a half-hour.

Upon their return, School Board President David Robinson told the parents he
would like them to form a committee so the issue could be further pursued.

"We have to solve this problem and we have to solve it right because the
bottom line is the kids. We have some option that we're exploring. It might
not be what you want, but it might be satisfying to everybody."

----------------------------------------------------------
Press of Atlantic City, The (NJ)
January 20, 1999
Section: Region
Edition: Cape May / Ocean
Page: C4


SUIT AGAINST LCMR BY TEACHER ALLEGING RACIAL BIAS BEGINS

W.F. KEOUGH Staff Writer
A former Lower Cape May Regional High School teacher lost her job because
she was openly dating a black man and school officials didn't like it, her
attorney told a federal jury Tuesday.


Linda Merlino, 45, of Cape May, is suing the school district, which
suspended her in 1991 after she was indicted on drug and theft charges.
In a federal civil-rights lawsuit filed in 1994, Merlino alleged the
suspension and indictments were racially motivated. She also claimed that
school officials and five members of the Cape May County Prosecutor's
Office - under then-Prosecutor John Corino - "conspired" to use the charges
to get her to quit.

"They wanted her out, but she had tenure," Merlino's attorney William
DeStefano told the jury. "So they used these trumped-up charges to coerce
her."

The indictable charges were later dropped, and Merlino was reinstated in
1993, but reassigned to teach at the middle school. She has been unable to
regain her position at the high school, where she taught history, coached
varsity cheerleading and advised the student government.

Late last year, Cape May County officials agreed to pay Merlino $190,000 to
settle her claim against five members of the Prosecutor's Office.

On Tuesday, the eight-member jury, consisting of five women and three men,
heard opening arguments on Merlino's remaining claims against the school
board.

School officials have denied any racial motivation in suspending Merlino
after she and her boyfriend Keith Marshall were indicted.

Jack Dugan, the school board's attorney, said the board acted properly when
it learned a teacher had been criminally charged. In his opening remarks,
Dugan referred to Marshall as "the drug dealer with whom (Merlino) was
living."

Marshall pleaded guilty to selling drugs in a school zone following the
indictments and was sentenced to three years in prison.

Dugan said that since Merlino and Marshall were living together, a November
1990 drug raid targeted Merlino's apartment and her car, which Marshall
used.

"Linda Merlino either participated, condoned or, at the very least,
overlooked the drug business which Keith Marshall was operating in her home
and car," Dugan said.

Merlino, who was the first witness to take the stand Tuesday, disputed that
claim, telling the jury she thought Marshall was using her car to look for a
job or travel to his mother's home in Philadelphia.

And DeStefano said he would show that a prosecutor's agent lied to a grand
jury when presenting evidence for the indictment. The investigator said that
"hundreds" of glassine bags and small vials were found in Merlino's home,
DeStefano said. In fact, there were "five or six" of each, found in a
kitchen drawer, he said.

DeStefano also promised to show the jury evidence of a conspiracy between
prosecutors and the school board. DeStefano said that in several instances,
school officials promised Merlino the criminal charges would be dropped if
she quit. School officials don't have the power to get criminal charges
dismissed, he said.

Dugan countered that school officials were acting in their official
capacity - not acting out a racial vendetta - in dealing with the criminal
charges that arose in 1991. Superintendent of Schools Richard Strauss, who
is named in the lawsuit, was present at Tuesday's trial. Dugan said Strauss
has worked "his entire life" in education. Other officials, he said were
acting according to their legal responsibilities as board members and
attorneys.

And Merlino was reinstated promptly after the last remaining charge was
dismissed, Dugan said.

"She (Merlino) has never comprehended the fact that she was charged with two
indictable offenses," Dugan said.

In addition to the school board, Merlino's lawsuit names as defendants
former board members Delton Brooks, Arlene MacDonald and William Hevener, as
well as Superintendent Richard Strauss and board Solicitor Peter Tourison.

U.S. District Court Judge Jerome Simandle is presiding at the trial, which
is expected to last roughly two weeks.
--------------------------------------------------------
Press of Atlantic City, The (NJ)
February 3, 1999
Section: Region
Edition: Cape May
Page: C1
Correction: Published clarification ran Tuesday, February 16, 1999, page C1,
Cape May County edition.

Region: Former Lower Cape May Regional Board of Education members William
Hevener, Arlene MacDonald and Delton Brooks were dropped as personal
defendants in a lawsuit by teacher Linda Merlino before the board reached
settlement with Merlino in January.


LCMR SCHOOLS, TEACHER SETTLE CIVIL-RIGHTS SUIT

JEANNE DEWEY and MICHAEL DIAMOND Staff Writers
A financial settlement was reached in the federal-civil rights case of a
white Lower Cape May Regional school district teacher who charged the Board
of Education fired her because she was openly dating a black man and was
pregnant with his child.


Attorneys for both sides agreed not to reveal how much the school board will
pay Linda Merlino, despite a N.J. Supreme Court ruling that public agencies
cannot enter into secret settlements.
In a case brought by The Press of Atlantic City against the authority that
operates the Atlantic City Expressway, the court ruled that once a matter is
concluded, even closed-session minutes must be made available for public
review. Judges in that and other cases have determined the public is
entitled to know how public money is being spent.

Merlino, 45, of Cape May, sued the LCMR Board of Education, which suspended
her from her high school teaching job in 1991 after she was indicted on drug
and theft charges. In a 1994 lawsuit, Merlino alleged the suspension and
indictments were racially motivated.

William DeStefano, Merlino's attorney, said Tuesday that a settlement was
reached before closing arguments were made and after testimony wound up in
Merlino's trial, which began Jan. 19 in U.S. District Court in Camden.

"The school board's counsel insisted at least that the settlement amount
remain confidential," said DeStefano, who nevertheless acknowledged that he
believes the amount is required to be disclosed because it will be paid by a
public body.

DeStefano said Merlino was pleased with the size of the settlement.

"Most of her damages were for embarrassment and defamation," DeStefano said.
"Sometimes the amount of those damages are in the eye of the beholder."

John Duggan, the attorney who represented the school board and other
defendants, did not return three telephone messages seeking comment Tuesday.

In a faxed request, The Press asked Duggan to provide the newspaper with the
terms of the settlement, citing a 1995 case in which Superior Court Judge
Richard Williams ordered the Atlantic County Utilities Authority to reveal
terms of a $250,000 confidential settlement it reached with an employee who
charged she was sexually harassed.

The Press took a similar case against the N.J. Expressway Authority to the
state Supreme Court, which ruled the newspaper had a right to closed-session
minutes, as well as terms of a confidential buyout with the authority's
executive director.

Late last year, the Cape May County Board of Chosen Freeholders approved in
a public meeting a $190,000 payment to Merlino to settle her claim against
five members of the Prosecutor's Office. Merlino had charged school
officials and five members of the Prosecutor's Office conspired to use the
charges to get her to quit.

LCMR school officials denied racial motivation in suspending Merlino after
she and then-boyfriend Keith Marshall were indicted. Duggan said the board
acted properly when it learned a teacher had been criminally charged.

The indictable charges against Merlino later were dropped and Merlino was
reinstated as a teacher in 1993, reassigned to the middle school and awarded
back pay.

Merlino has been unable to regain her position at the high school, where she
taught history, coached varsity cheerleading and advised the student
government. DeStefano said the settlement did not address where Merlino
works.

"They'll at least treat her fairly" if Merlino applies for an opening at the
high school, DeStefano said.

In addition to the school board, Merlino's lawsuit named as defendants
former board members Delton Brooks, Arlene MacDonald and William Hevener, as
well as Superintendent Richard Strauss and former board solicitor Peter
Tourison.

----------------------------------------------------------

Press of Atlantic City, The (NJ)
February 4, 1999
Section: Region
Edition: Cape May
Page: C1


LCMR TEACHER GETS $110,000 SETTLEMENT

JEANNE DEWEY And MICHAEL DIAMOND Staff Writers
The Lower Cape May Regional Board of Education agreed to pay a teacher
$110,000 to settle a federal civil-rights case in which the teacher, who is
white, charged the Board of Education fired her because she was openly
dating a black man and was pregnant with his child.


The settlement, along with $190,000 from the Cape May County Board of Chosen
Freeholders, brings to $300,000 the amount of Linda Merlino's award.
The school board unanimously voted to approve the settlement at its meeting
Thursday, district Superintendent Richard Strauss said. The bulk of the
settlement will be paid by insurance, according to John Duggan, the attorney
who represented the school board.

"The settlement provides that it has been entered into to avoid additional
costs and expenses associated with litigation and does not represent an
admission of responsibility as to any of the parties," Duggan said in a
faxed statement.

"It's a relief not to have it hanging over us," school board President David
Robinson said.

No members of the public were present when the board voted on the amount in
open session at about 9:30 p.m. Thursday after discussing the matter in
closed session, Strauss said.

Duggan and William DeStefano, Merlino's attorney, agreed to settle the case
on Jan. 27, just before closing arguments were to be made in Merlino's trial
in U.S. District Court in Camden.

The LCMR Board of Education suspended Merlino from her high school teaching
job in 1991 after she was indicted on drug and theft charges. In a 1994
lawsuit against the board and the Prosecutor's Office, Merlino, 45, of Cape
May, alleged her suspension and the indictments were racially motivated and
that school officials and prosecutors conspired to use the criminal charges
to force her to quit her job.

Late last year, county freeholders approved in a public meeting a $190,000
payment to Merlino to settle her claim against five members of the
Prosecutor's Office.

The indictable charges against Merlino later were dropped and Merlino was
reinstated as a teacher in 1993, reassigned to the middle school and awarded
back pay. Merlino continues to teach at the middle school.
-----------------------------------------------------


Dr-G0NZ0

unread,
Jul 11, 2001, 10:50:03 PM7/11/01
to

"TheDr." <Flyer...@netscape.com> wrote

> She's *still* at the middle school, and sent a
> boy I know to the principal because she overheard him responding to
another
> boy's question about her *true* history with a truthful response. First
she
> flipped on him, though.

And how do you know the boy, Mrs. Robbinson?
"cucoo-ca-chu"

Dr-G0NZ0
Sorry, it was too easy.

TheDr.

unread,
Jul 12, 2001, 1:18:33 AM7/12/01
to

"Dr-G0NZ0" <Dr-G...@porncentral.com> wrote

> And how do you know the boy, Mrs. Robbinson?
> "cucoo-ca-chu"

Hey, he's in high school now ;-)

Nah, the sons' friends are permanently off-limits.

> Sorry, it was too easy.

As are boys *that* young.

P -
no, thanks

Dr-G0NZ0

unread,
Jul 12, 2001, 2:03:16 AM7/12/01
to

"TheDr." <Flyer...@netscape.com> wrote

> > Sorry, it was too easy.
>
> As are boys *that* young.

Have you met a guy that wasn't easy?

Dr-G0NZ0


TheDr.

unread,
Jul 12, 2001, 8:21:27 AM7/12/01
to

"Dr-G0NZ0" <Dr-G...@porncentral.com> wrote

> Have you met a guy that wasn't easy?

It's the characteristic I find most irresistable in a man, being "not easy."


P -


Dr-G0NZ0

unread,
Jul 12, 2001, 8:41:53 AM7/12/01
to

"TheDr." <Flyer...@netscape.com> wrote

> It's the characteristic I find most irresistable in a man, being "not
easy."

That's not what I asked.

Dr-G0NZ0


Shrike

unread,
Jul 12, 2001, 9:03:27 AM7/12/01
to
<snipped massive post>

Thank you very much. Wow. Thats alot. I particularly enjoy the
characterization of 'innocent' vs 'not guilty.' I don't know how much
states differ on this, but I always thought you were guilty or not
guilty. If so, maybe some of the journalists had a soft spot for
coke-peddling whores.

TheDr.

unread,
Jul 12, 2001, 1:39:39 PM7/12/01
to

"Shrike" <shr...@excite.com> wrote
> <snipped massive post>

Yeah, I know, sorry, but didn't have any other way.

Now, now, she was 'not guilty,' so the worst you can accuse her of is being
a "coke-peddling-ignoring" whore :-)

P -

Shrike

unread,
Jul 12, 2001, 8:18:06 PM7/12/01
to
On Thu, 12 Jul 2001 13:39:39 -0400, "TheDr."
<Flyer...@netscape.com> wrote:


>Now, now, she was 'not guilty,' so the worst you can accuse her of is being
>a "coke-peddling-ignoring" whore :-)

I can accuse her of much much worse, believe me ;-)

Then I'd have to watch out my mouth with soap; I don't like using the
loser language


(I almost said that with a straight face)

TheDr.

unread,
Jul 12, 2001, 8:54:36 PM7/12/01
to

"Shrike" <n...@askme.dur> wrote

Almost.

P -


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