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'Quiet' Day After School Custodian Charged with Child Porn

Custodian suspended after county prosecutor arrests him at Waretown home

Staff received about five calls from parents Friday regarding the arrest and suspension of a , charged with distribution and possession of child pornography Thursday.

"I'd say it was quiet," Toms River Regional School spokesperson Tammi Millar said in a phone interview. "Notification commenced (Thursday) with automated calls to parents of students."

Stephen Tisch, 27, of Waretown was arrested Thursday morning after members of the Ocean Township police and Ocean County Prosecutor's Office High Tech Crimes Unit executed a search warrant on his Dock Avenue home, Prosecutor Marlene Lynch Ford said.

Tisch was charged with one count of possession of child pornography and one count of distribution of child pornography.

“At this point there is no evidence that any children at the elementary school have been in contact with the defendant, or that any of the children are the subject of any images," Ford said.

Toms River Regional Superintendent said the school computers have security filters in place, that prevent access to pornography websites.

"At no time did any of these activities occur on District property. The technology filters we have in place do not allow access to  pornographic sites from any of our computers," said Roselli in a statement Thursday.

Tisch was suspended from his job as a Toms River Regional School custodian Thursday. He worked for the district for seven years, officials said.

Millar said that once Toms River Regional was notified of the arrest, the district moved to suspend Tisch's employment.

Toms River Regional would suspend an employee based on criminal charges, Millar said, afer after weighing the impact to students. Obviously charges relating to child pornography would be among the allegations warranting suspension.

"Technically there's no list of offenses that would result in a suspension," Millar said. "First and foremost we take into account the threat to student safety."

"We'd err on the side of caution," Millar said.

Notification to parents came in the form of an automated phone call Thursday. The district also posted an announcement in English and Spanish on its website, here.

"We've notified all the parents Thursday evening. No notification is left," Millar said. Friday, Millar said the school and district switchboard received five calls to administrators wanting to know more. Millar said sometimes parents don't receive automated messages because their contact information on file had changed.

"For the most part there were some parents that didn't get the message and we discovered they missed the phone call," Millar said. "Sometimes that happens when there's a change in cell phone number."

The message was drafted in Spanish for the students of Walnut Street Elementary who come from Spanish-speaking homes, Millar said.

Millar said she's heard the criticism that phone calls to parents could have gone out shortly after the charges were announced at 4 p.m. by the Prosecutors Office. Comments to a previous article on Toms River Patch criticized the district and debated why the timing of the Prosecutor's announcement to media came before parent notification.

Millar said 7 p.m. was the best time to connect with parents.

"Earlier than that, the parent might not be home," MIllar said. "It might leave the child to hear the message."

Managing elementary children's contact with a notification of child pornography was part of the consideration, Millar said.

"This is a sensitive message...you don't want to put that in child's hands," Millar said. "We wouldn't send a notification of this sort home in a letter in students' hands."

In its public statement on the district website, Toms River Regional urged parents to contact them with questions, and condemned the situation.

"The allegations against the custodian are serious and extremely troubling. If they are proven to be true, then he should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. The type of behavior that has been alleged has absolutely no place anywhere in our schools," read the statement. "The safety of our students is our highest priority."

Those who have questions, Millar said, can call the switchboard at 732-505-5500  or e-mail communications@trschools.com.

Anyone with information relating to the criminal investigation is encouraged to contact Detective James Hill of the Prosecutor's Office at 732-929-2027.

Raymond Keller April 30, 2012 at 08:05 PM
I think that the school district handled the case very well. The custodian deserves due process. What needs to be established first is whether or not the inappropriate material was in the school or on a school computer. If not, it is his own personal property and the government has no right to intrude.
Barry Russo April 30, 2012 at 09:16 PM
Are you related to the custodian? Don't think you would take such a laid back and ignorant stance if you had a child in that school. Stop brown nosing the school and wake up!
Brian Fitzpatrick April 30, 2012 at 09:39 PM
Hi Barry, I DO have a child (two, in fact) in that school and while I find the nature of the alleged crime to be reprehensible, Raymond is correct that the custodian deserves due process. I'll leave it up to the authorities to determine if the material in question and its possession is illegal. I, too, believe that the school district is handling the situation properly. Aside from all the heat and noise about whether or not the school system should have issued an instantaneous notification, what else should the school system be doing in this case? This is something that is completely out of their hands, now that the custodian has been suspended.
barbara April 30, 2012 at 10:20 PM
I agree with the computer filter statement, never know, he could have been taking pics of kids with his phone. Hope they had the brains to check his phone. geesh
Fedup May 01, 2012 at 02:06 AM
How many elementary school children are home alone between 4 and 7? I would hope none. When is this school system going to call it like it is, we didn't send the calls out until 7. Why, because that is when we sent the calls out. The spin is not working.

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