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CBS2 Exclusive: Suspended New Brunswick Teacher Defends Tardiness Claims

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- A New Brunswick, New Jersey teacher was late for work 100 times, but will keep his job.

The decision came down from a New Jersey state arbitrator. Meanwhile, the educator was defending himself, and spoke exclusively to CBS2's Andrea Grymes.

At Roosevelt Elementary School in New Brunswick, student Ana Dominguez said she liked her third-grade math teacher, Mr. Arnold Anderson.

"He was a nice teacher," Ana said. "He gave you prizes or pencils when you do nice stuff."

But the New Brunswick said Anderson's record of getting to work on time was far from prize-worthy.

"I was late," Anderson said. "I mean, I will admit… I was late."

But Anderson said he was tardy by only a few minutes. He spoke with CBS2 after the state arbitrator issued some harsh words, but ultimately ruled that the tenured teacher can keep his job despite about 100 instances of tardiness over two years.

During the 2013-2014 school year, the principal reported Anderson late 49 times, with 16 late punch-ins of five minutes or more.

Last year, it was 40 times, and six additional late punch-ins of five minutes or more.

But Anderson said he was never late actually to start teaching.

"I was never late to teach students, no," he said.

Anderson claimed nearly all the instances of tardiness happened during an unwritten grace period for teacher arrivals, in the few minutes before classes began.

"You clock in, there's a long line and stuff like that, so you have a three-minute window," Anderson said. "In the two years, I was late more than 10 minutes only once -- and I mean, you know, my car broke down."

But the arbitrator said, "The Roosevelt school principal meticulously tracked respondent's cascades of tardiness, none of which is plausibly explained by the respondent."

Anderson claimed the principal had a personal problem with him, and was looking for a reason to fire him. He is suspended without pay until January.

The arbitrator ruled that the district cannot fire Anderson because he did not receive a formal notice of inefficiency, and did not have the mandatory 90-day period to correct those inefficiencies.

The superintendent's office told CBS2's Grymes it could not comment on the case because it is ongoing. Anderson said he will return to teaching at Roosevelt Elementary in January and has no plans to resign.

Anderson has worked in the district for 15 years. He said he has been an educator for 30.

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