Are You Kidding?
Meet Stanley Williams, 57, of Newark, NJ. Mr. Williams is a special education teacher at New Brunswick High School in New Brunswick, NJ and has been for the past 20-years. During the 2006-2007 school year, Stanley missed 33 days which included 23 unpaid days. That is, he was only paid for 10 of the 33 days he missed and when at trial, said he missed so many days due a drug habit. When his habit would render him unable to work, he didn’t make it to school to teach.
On June 13, 2007, school officials asked for documentation that would explain missing a rather large amount of days for a 180-day school year. To this end, Stanley forged a doctor’s note with information from a prescription blank he had from a Newark, NJ pediatrician. Schools officials looked into the letter, found out it was fraudulent, and pressed charges against Williams.
Williams, on the recommendation of his attorney, accepted a plea deal that would make him surrender his teaching certificate, accept the fact that he would never be able to hold a public job again, pay a $655 fine, and receive 5 years probation IN ADDITION TO SERVING ONE YEAR IN JAIL!
Really? Are you kidding me? This is wrong on so many levels.
First, this guy obviously has a problem. At the very least, he is a drug addict. At most, he’s a drug addict with some sort of mental issue be it depression or otherwise. The man needs help. He doesn’t have a criminal record and has served as a special education teacher for 20 freakin’ years. And he misses a rather large amount of days due to his drug use and when pressed for documentation to substantiate missing such a large number of days, he forges a doctor’s note to save his job. Is it right? No, it was bad judgment. Fire him and move on. Or better yet, let this be his warning, help him, and let him keep his job when he’s better.
Second, does losing his job and his ability to teach, the way he has made an income for at least 20 years, help this man in any way? He loses a year of pay, now has to deal with the Scarlet Letter of having a criminal record for the rest of his life, and will more than likely lose whatever he has be it a house, car, etc. as a result of his incarceration. When he gets out, I wouldn’t be surprised if he turns right back to his vice – drugs.
Third, the guy has to do a year in prison. How many people across the country forge doctor’s notes on any given day? Sure, pointing to wrong behavior in others is no way to justify your own wrong doings, but give me a break. How does the punishment fit the crime? How many serious thugs are caught with illegal handguns on the streets of America on any given day and never see a day of jail time? Heck, you can commit a triple-homicide and do less time than Williams.
Fourth, who the hell is this guy’s lawyer? This is the best you could do? A year in prison for forging a doctor’s note? I can see the scenario now.
“So tell me, Mr. Lawyer, why I should choose your firm?”
“Well, one of my clients had a clean criminal record and forged a doctor’s note to explain why he took off so many days from work. All he got was a year in prison with 5 years probation.”
I think the punishment is overly severe and clearly indicative of an awfully imbalanced legal system. Clearly jail space could be occupied with someone that has done a little more wrong than Williams. Don’t you think?