Teacher Who Allegedly Bullied Student: "It's Not Who I Am"

A teacher who was caught on cell phone video bullying a student with special needs spoke during a hearing Monday.

By David Chang and Harry Hairston
|  Thursday, May 3, 2012  |  Updated 12:08 PM EDT
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Steve Roth, a special needs teacher in Sewell, New Jersey fights to keep his job. Former student, 15-year-old Julio Artuz, used his cellphone what he characterized as consistent bullying by Roth.

NBC10 Philadelphia

Steve Roth, a special needs teacher in Sewell, New Jersey fights to keep his job. Former student, 15-year-old Julio Artuz, used his cellphone what he characterized as consistent bullying by Roth.

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It was only last year when the NBC10 Investigators first reported the alleged bullying of a special needs student by his teacher. Several months later, that teacher explained his actions.

“My temper got the best of me,” said Stephen Roth at a hearing Monday. “My conduct was inappropriate.”

Julio Artuz, a student at Bankbridge Regional High School, claims Roth bullied him nearly every day in class. He decided to record the alleged bullying on his cell phone so his parents would believe what he was telling them about his teacher’s behavior.

In the video, Artuz asks Roth to not call him “special.” Roth is heard telling the student, “You know what Jules, I’ll kick you’re a** from here to kingdom come until I’m 80 years old.” Later Roth is seen getting into the student’s face and taunting him, telling him that nobody cares that he is special.
On Dec. 5, Roth was voted to be fired by the Gloucester County Board of Education. He is also currently suspended without pay.

Roth spoke at a hearing on Monday that will determine whether or not he’ll keep his job. During the hearing, Roth claimed he acted out of frustration and told the court he is passionate about teaching as well as his students.

“I don’t want them working at McDonald’s,” said Roth. “I want them to have good jobs.”

Dr. Susan Heikin, who coordinates the state’s anti-bullying policy at two New Jersey school districts, testified that her investigation of Roth shows his actions crossed the line.

“Our conclusion was it was a violation,” said Dr. Heikin.

Gloucester County Superintendent Michael Diken also says Roth’s actions clearly violated the state’s anti-bullying and harassment policy.

“I was professionally devastated by it,” said Diken.

Roth says he wants people to understand him and his compassion for teaching.

“It’s not who I am,” said Roth. “I was struggling.”

School officials say the Administrative judge will make a decision on Roth around 45 days after the hearings are completed. 

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