School District Hires PR Firm in Wake of Triton Sex Scandal

Braithwaite Communications, of Philadelphia, handles media inquiries in wake of Camden County Prosecutor's Office announcement of five educators' arrests.

SOUTHERN NJ -- Black Horse Pike Regional School District (BHPRSD) has hired a Philadelphia public relations firm in the wake of a sex scandal at Triton Regional High School that saw three teachers and two administrators arrested Thursday.

The district hired Braithwaite Communications on Thursday to handle the "media barrage" it anticipated following Camden County Prosecutor Warren W. Faulk's announcement of the educators' arrests, Braithwaite account supervisor Sarah Lindsay said.

The terms of the agreement are not known at this time.

Three Triton teachers—Jeffrey Logandro, 32, Nicholas Martinelli, 28, and Daniel Michielli, 27—are charged with having sexual contact with now-former students during the 2011-12 school year.

According to investigation documents, Michielli had sexual intercourse with his victim, who was 17 years old at the time, during the school year, while Martinelli did not engage in sexual intercourse with his victim, who was 18 at the time, until after the girl had graduated from Triton.

Martinelli, who is only charged with second-degree official misconduct at this point, did admit he had "kissed victim and touched her intimate parts on multiple occasions during the school year," according to the records.

Several students chanted "Free Martinelli!" as they left the Runnemede school Thursday afternoon. The popular physical education teacher was the boys' soccer coach through the 2011 season.

According to the investigation records, Logandro never engaged in sexual intercourse with his victim, who was 17 years old at the time of the alleged contact, but he did admit to kissing her and touching her "intimate parts." The documents also note the 32-year-old math teacher and girls' track coach apologized to his victim's parents for kissing their daughter.

Triton principal Catherine DePaul, 55, and former vice principal Jernee Kollock, 39, are charged with second-degree official misconduct, as well as hindering an investigation—a disorderly persons offense. Both are accused of attempting to cover up allegations of teacher-student sex after a student went to a substitute teacher with the information in April.

Kollock became vice principal at Timber Creek Regional High School—also a BHPRSD school—on July 1, when she replaced a retiring vice principal. It is not yet known when the BHPRSD board approved the transfer.

"It's obvious there existed a culture at Triton High School whereby teachers thought they could get away with the relationships with their students, and administrators turned a blind eye to evidence of these relationships' existence," Faulk said.

Patch was unsuccessful in attempts to reach Logandro and Michielli, a math teacher and the Class of 2012 adviser, at their homes Friday afternoon.

All five educators have been suspended. The BHPRSD Board of Education next meets Thursday night at Timber Creek.

BHPRSD has not incurred any legal fees specific to the Triton sex investigation at this point, Lindsay said.

The investigation is ongoing, according to Faulk, who encourages any potential additional victims to contact Inv. Robin Morante at 856-225-8480.

For more on the Triton teacher-student sex charges, visit:

Lauren Burgoon October 08, 2012 at 02:11 AM
The 6 p.m. portion of the meeting is executive session, the public session starts at 7 p.m.: http://patch.com/E-pBLy
Concerned citizen October 08, 2012 at 02:15 AM
As disgusted as I am with the behavior of the teachers, I am even more appalled by the behavior of the administrators. When my kids were at Triton, DePaul went by the last name, Kelleher, and would preach honesty, integrity and self -control when it came to sex and drugs. What a farce! I really hope she get what she deserves and loses her pension!
Schu October 08, 2012 at 03:11 AM
I'll be there at 7 for the public section of the board of education.
Schu October 08, 2012 at 04:27 PM
At the worst she will retire and collect her taxpayer funded pension and live down the shore.
Concerned citizen October 09, 2012 at 02:53 AM
That is what I am afraid of...DePaul is 55 years old and has more than enough years to retire. She is an embarrassment to all educators who dedicate their lives and careers to building the minds, dreams and goals of our youth.
Schu October 09, 2012 at 03:32 AM
It will part of her plea deal to avoid any jail time.
Michelle Wolfson October 09, 2012 at 04:08 PM
Do we actually know what monies were used to pay to hire this PR firm or is it just speculation? I'd imagine that this will be one of the first questions asked at the meeting on Thursday.
Michelle Wolfson October 09, 2012 at 04:11 PM
I too am really even more disheartened with the administrators. The teachers, well, they are just stupid in my opinion. But HOW on earth are we supposed to tell our kids that these are people who we are to look up to and TRUST? These are the people that WE PAY to PROTECT our children, to be sure that the teachers are acting in our kids best interests at all times. Not to protect grown men who violate school policy and break the law at the expense of all of our children.
Sean McCullen (Editor) October 09, 2012 at 04:11 PM
We have submitted an OPRA request for a copy of the contract/agreement between the district and the firm. Submitted on Friday.
Mindie Duquette October 09, 2012 at 06:11 PM
Why should a teacher or any other profession be entitled to trust or respect. There are many teachers I respect because of the principles they exhibit not because of the title they hold. Isn't it a much more valuable lesson to learn in life to trust your core principles than blindly trust a person based off their profession. Twisted people come in all forms. The men, women, teenagers, regardless of position in life, are all personally responsible for their poor choices in this "triton sex scandal". They should all be held accountability. No need to for PR.
Danielle Markulics October 09, 2012 at 06:13 PM
Paul, You are absolutely correct. Us taxpayers are going to get hit hard when this is said and done. I'm better off getting out of Gloucester Township. It's horrible that we have to pay the the price for the actions of others.
Schu October 09, 2012 at 08:29 PM
It came up before, a reliable, honest and hardworking teacher was let go to make room for one of the perv as a favor to the math department.
Swordfish Communications October 10, 2012 at 12:33 AM
As a longtime public relations professional, I can say the fact that there's so much ire on this thread illustrates exactly why the school district needs to hire a PR agency. If you think there's passion and a demand for answers here, imagine dealing with the same coming from both the local and now national media. There's much more than individual jobs to protect here, it's a matter of reputation for the entire district and restoring faith in parents and students, as well as others like the board members and politicians who control the purse strings. Unless the district can plug this bleeding wound, there could be long-term repercussions, such as "No" votes on school budgets, that will hurt future generations. Holding the guilty staffers accountable for their actions and inactions is a given, but PR is necessary to stem the rancor like that on display here and eventually make parents comfortable again with Triton HS as a place with the best interests of their children at heart. It will take time and proactive effort.
Darren Gladden October 10, 2012 at 09:26 PM
"Really" ...How much did you get paid to write that Hogwash Swordfish Communications give me a Break it's a waste of MONEY to hide the truth .Tell the truth that all we all demend it
Darren Gladden October 10, 2012 at 09:27 PM
Really" ...How much did you get paid to write that Hogwash Swordfish Communications give me a Break it's a waste of MONEY to hide the truth .Tell us all the truth that all we all demend it
daniel griffoni October 10, 2012 at 09:51 PM
Well scubily scrappily dappily. I's don't sees the problems heres.
Paul J. DiBartolo October 10, 2012 at 11:39 PM
Hey Swordfish, PR this...Triton fell from a ranking of 221 of 322 public high schools in 2008 to 278 of 322 in 2010. Apparently instead of worrying about keeping up academic standards Triton was more worried about protecting its teachers that were chasing its students. Tell me, please, what's your plan to whitewash that fact?
Swordfish Communications October 10, 2012 at 11:51 PM
Darren and Paul, Swordfish isn't the firm that was hired to fix this, I'm not being paid to write anything. But here's another thing to consider -- with the no doubt ridiculous amount of media inquiries coming in, would you rather school administration spend their time responding to them, or conducting the business of educating our children? Maybe working to bring up that state ranking? Hired PR serves many purposes, one of which is to allow those paid to do other jobs focus on those tasks. Fielding media phone calls, vetting opportunities, and coordinating and giving interviews -- even if it's to say the proverbial "no comment" -- takes time away from the many, many things they surely have on their plates right now. All I'm saying is it's not a waste of district money...they'd be remiss if they didn't hire someone and tried to handle this themselves.
Schu October 11, 2012 at 12:01 AM
Thursday October 11, 2012, Timber Creek H.S. first Black Horse Pike BOE meeting, public session begins at 7pm. We want answers.
Paul J. DiBartolo October 11, 2012 at 12:16 AM
Of course I knew you weren't hired...you know how I knew that? Because I can read. Your problem is you think you know it all and we know nothing. I spent two years at Triton and I raised six children of my own (mostly home-schooled). I think I understand the situation here much better than you, whomever you are. As for what our administrators should be doing...not covering up the shenanigans that have been going on there while the ranking of the school dropped from 221 to 278 amongst 322. I noticed you didn't care to address that issue. Allow me to inform you not to waste your time defending the fact that you think that Triton needs PR. I guess you have a vested interest in people needing PR, correct? Triton needs much, much more than PR and if Triton had been doing its job it wouldn't need PR now. The fact is that Triton has done everything wrong and I'm not interested in a whitewash to give everybody a warm and fuzzy. OK, RANT OFF.
Paul J. DiBartolo October 11, 2012 at 12:19 AM
BTW, Swordfish, and maybe you missed this most important point, but Triton does not have the authority to spend money on PR without approval and that's the bottom line. It's our money, the taxpayers in the district, and it belongs to no one else.
Michelle Wolfson October 11, 2012 at 03:22 AM
How about we ask the 3 teachers and 2 administrators that caused all of this to pay for the PR firm? They can use the paychecks that they are still drawing.
Schu October 11, 2012 at 03:48 AM
That would be fair for the taxpayers of gt and unfair to the disgraced to the 5 perverts. This is new jersey where common sense and good ideas don't exist.
Tom Catz October 11, 2012 at 04:33 AM
And of course, Paul, anyone who disagrees with you or has a contrarian point of view must be a blathering idiot.
Paul J. DiBartolo October 11, 2012 at 10:56 AM
State your case, Tom; show me where I'm wrong and you're not, and then I'll either refute it based on the facts as I understand them or agree with you if your argument is logical and holds up. Now, is that too difficult or do you really just not have the time?
patti klinshaw October 12, 2012 at 03:49 AM
the administration helped fail the children, but i think the parents did too.
Marlene October 18, 2012 at 06:10 PM
I agree.The Sandusky case and the catholic priest cases were pedophiles who aggressively abused NUMEROUS boys over course of years. Those cases are not relevant to this scandal. It was a consensual sex fling with three girls who were girlfriends and 3 male teacher who happen to be mutual friends also.Neither the girls nor their parents pressed charges. It was an acceptable situation. I AM IN NO WAY CONDONING THE AFFAIR. Consensual sex among teenagers is nothing new and has only flared in recent years. Many high school girls dress, act and look like woman. The one teacher can only be charged with misconduct because his female partner just happened to be 18 but the other 2 teachers are criminally charged because their partners were NOT 18 YET. Those who are already trashing these three teachers should speak to students who will tell you they were GOOD teachers who gave extra tutoring and instilled confidence and hope. They were well liked and respected. They made the Big Mistake of not walking away and they are going to pay severely for that mistake. This is One More case however where people in authoritativeness positions are NOT doing their job. The principal and vice principal are being paid to make rightful decisions in the best interest of the students.These people do not deserve their jobs and should also lose their careers, their credentials. The principal should have put a stop to it and she didn't, so in my opinion, she just threw fuel on the fire.
Schu October 27, 2012 at 04:12 AM
I know it's been a few weeks since the sex scandal broke but I'm very interested in where this situation goes. The PR firm, the perv still getting paid and the principal covering it up. It's still a real story.
Hadenough January 15, 2013 at 02:25 PM
The five arrested - teachers, principle and vice principle are technically " STILL" employed !!!! They are still receiving a paycheck ... The board legally can't fire any of them until they are indicted or plead guilty which NONE have done yet. If they plead not guilty and move forward, if a grand jury finds them guilty, they automatically do at least 5 years in jail ! I hope they are found guilty and thrown in prison. Our justice system is one that gives time to those charged to decide how they will plea. Its a game of " chicken". 3 months is LONG ENOUGH to have them sitting around, collecting our money. ALL A GAME !! Its not a game to those families dealing with the aftermath of what occurred. For all those parents out there that put blame on the girls, SHAME ON YOU !! You wouldnt be blaming them if one of them were your daughter. There is something terribly wrong with people today. No one wants to take responsibilty for anything. No one wants to get involved. Its apalling how many people knew about this long before it hit the news. They did NOTHING!! Disgrace!! Our kids are not safe ANYWHERE!
Danny Griffoni March 01, 2013 at 03:46 PM
Scrappy dappy doo! I's does thinks we's be's gettins just a fine's edumications up in dis here tizownship!


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