Kenilworth schools chief granted leave after defecation arrest

Thomas Tramaglini

KENILWORTH, NJ — The Kenilworth school board has approved a paid leave of absence for Superintendent Thomas Tramaglini following his May 1 arrest for defecating at the athletic field of Holmdel High School in a case that has drawn international attention.

The board’s action came during a special meeting at 8 a.m. on Saturday, May 4, in which the board also approved Director of Academics Brian Luciani as acting superintendent of schools.

Several parents attended the meeting demanding that Tramaglini be fired, but the board issued a statement saying that it was unable to do that.
“Dr. Tramaglini’s current contract runs through June 30, 2020, and state law provides him with tenure protection during the life of the contract; this includes prohibition on suspensions without pay in the absence of an indictment or tenure charges,” the statement on the Kenilworth Schools Department’s website said.

Tramaglini, 42, who lives about 4 miles from the athletic field in Matawan, was charged with lewdness, littering and defecating in public, Holmdel police Sgt. Theodore Sigismondi said in a May 3 phone interview.

“The Holmdel school resource officer was alerted by Holmdel High School staff and coaches that they were finding human feces, on or near the area of the high school track / football field on a daily basis,” Holmdel police said on its Facebook page. “The SRO officer, along with school staff, monitored the area and was able to identify a subject responsible for the acts.”

A message left for Tramaglini on May 4 was not returned.
Sigismondi said Tramaglini was “running at the time,” at about 5:50 a.m., when he was apprehended. However, Sigismondi said he could not “get into specifics” of the case, such as how long students and staff had been noticing the feces at the track or if he was arrested in the act, since the matter was still under investigation.

The story came to light May 3, after Holmdel police posted a brief alert on its Facebook page and it quickly spread with headlines of “Mystery Pooper,” “Super Pooper” and others, appearing on websites from Providence, R.I., and Denver, Colo., to Memphis, Tenn., as well as in national outlets such as People, Cosmopolitan and USA Today and international news sites such as The Week UK and the Independent in Britain and in more than half a dozen foreign languages.

Kenilworth Schools, in a statement on its website dated May 2, said Tramaglini had asked for and was granted a paid leave following his arrest, and that Luciani had been appointed acting superintendent, although it was unclear who had authorized that action.

A phone call to Kenilworth Schools on May 7 asking about the length of Tramagilini’s approved leave was not immediately returned. Catherine Dunne, the Holmdel Municipal Court deputy court administrator said May 7 that Tramaglini is scheduled to appear in court on the charges at 10 a.m. on May 30.
Tramaglini was appointed Kenilworth superintendent Dec. 14, 2015, replacing Scott Taylor who had resigned to take over the Highland Park School District. Tramaglini earns a salary of $147,504, according to official records.