The fired New Jersey elementary school teacher accused of urinating in plastic bottles during class and having his students flush the contents in the bathroom says he's filing an appeal of his termination and a discrimination lawsuit against the Paterson school district.
"I want my job back. I want my life back," Ron Tuitt told NBC 4 New York in an exclusive interview Wednesday.
Tuitt, 56, who taught second grade in the Paterson Public School District for more than a dozen years, was placed on administrative leave in November 2010 after school officials learned of several incidents the year before that involved him allegedly relieving himself in trash cans in his classroom or in plastic bottles that students were then asked to empty in the boys' bathroom.
The state Education Commission last week revoked his tenure and granted the school's request to fire him. The Paterson district did not comment directly on the discrimination claim, saying in a statement to NBC 4 New York that officials were "pleased" with the Education Commission's decision.
Tuitt, who is in a wheelchair, said he never asked students to flush out his urine.
"That never happened," he said. "No. 1, I'm not like that. No. 2, it's physically impossible."
Tuitt suffers from a disease that causes severe swelling in his legs, making mobility and other routine activities difficult. He admitted to a 2009 incident in which he said an infection forced him to urinate in the classroom trash bin while some students waited outside.
"Between the timing, I had to go, I'm already dripping," he said. "I decided to hit that corner. There was a can there."
Two months later, Tuitt was put on paid administrative leave and the school district ultimately filed 17 charges against him, accusing him of making students run errands for him, driving students home and sending inappropriate, accusatory emails to parents. Tuitt denies those charges.
"I know I never had inappropriate conduct with my children," Tuitt said. "Whatever I did, I did with parental permission."
Tuitt claimed he has a stellar teaching record and the charges were trumped up by a school administrator who didn't like him.
"I didn't do anything wrong, and what's going on now is a travesty," he said.
Tuitt said he is fighting for his reputation and his career.