A mother from Carneys Point, NJ, has filed a lawsuit against the Penns Grove Board of Education, Dr. Zenida Cobian, School Superintendent, and Penns Grove Middle School, Vice Principal, Abner Mendoza, for engaging in inappropriate behavior of a minor student, attending the Penns Grove High School.
Reports indicate that Mendoza repeatedly sent text messages to her daughter about non-school matters using his personal cellphone. The mother says nothing was done when she told school administrators what was going on.

“BOE acknowledges that Mendoza acted outside the realm of what is deemed appropriate and only required him to take a class on the use of technology and communication with students,” the suit says “These text messages were of an unwarranted and of a personal nature.”

The mother reportedly said her daughter took acting after Mendoza had been in contact with her daughter for years via email and then moved the conversation to text messages. She said Mendoza sent messages like “are you home alone” and not to store his number in her phone. The mother wants Mendoza removed from the school.

Principal Lory O’Brien said in one report that it was not unusual for students and teachers to form a bond or friendship but that communicating via cellphone is against school policy. Text Messages between students and teachers is prohibited by school policy unless the message is about school business and sent to an entire class, team, club or organization.

Mendoza was reportedly remained employed at the school and was not removed from his position and was promoted. The lawsuit seeks compensation for damages and mental anguish from the Penns Grove Board of Education.

“Children are suppose to attend school to get a good education, not to be preyed on by Abner Mendoza, who is now a Vice Principal,” said activist Walter Hudson at a BOE meeting in February. “It’s sad instead of Dr. Cobian holding administrators accountable for their behavior, she became negligent by promoting Mendoza to Vice Principal of the Middle School, covering for him when she became aware of his behavior. What continues to happen in the school district is a direct reflection of the leadership.”

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