Former Glen Rock police officer Matthew Stanislao, who was fired by the borough in October, 2014 and later sued the borough claiming he was the victim of discrimination because he is gay, has been reinstated to his former position after he and the borough reached an out-of-court settlement that will give him two-and-a-half years’ worth of back pay and $750,000 in damages, Glen Rock mayor Bruce Packer announced at Monday’s meeting of the Mayor and Borough Council.
“Over the past two-and-a-half years… much has happened with respect to the Glen Rock Police Department,’’ Packer said, reading from a prepared statement. “With the retirement of the previous (Glen Rock Police Department) management team, we have welcomed a new (Police) Chief and are building the framework for new management and an improved force from the top down.
“In the spirit of moving forward, the Borough pursued, and has now achieved, a full and final settlement, which will reinstate Mr. Stanislao to the Glen Rock Police Department.’’
Stanislao sued the borough in October 2014, a week after he was notified that he had been fired. His suit alleged that several officers had sexually harassed him for being gay.
Around the same time that Stanislao was fired, officer Chris McInerney was suspended without pay and recommended to be fired by then-police chief Fred Stahman. McInerney also sued the borough, and he and another suspended officer, Bryan Scott, were reinstated to the police department in March, 2015. In December of that year, Stahman retired from the department. He was replaced in 2016 by current chief Dean Ackermann.
In December, 2016, a Facebook page titled “Bring back Officer Matt” was started, dedicated to the purpose of getting Stanislao, who had worked for the department for 10 years and had served as the department’s D.A.R.E. officer, to be rehired. Packer, who also read the official resolution reinstating Stanislao, said the borough wanted an out-of-court agreement not because the borough was admitting to any wrongdoing, but just in the interest of saving time and money by ending court proceedings. According to Packer’s statement, neither Stanislao nor the borough “has admitted any fault or liability in connection to the termination nor the litigation.’’
“We welcome Mr. Stanislao back to the police force in a spirit of reconciliation and a clean slate on all sides,’’ Packer’s statement continued. “Chief Ackermann will guide the process that will reintegrate Mr. Stanislao back into the department.’’
Packer said Stanislao will return to work on or before May 5, and the mayor added that the borough’s insurance company will cover $600,000 of the settlement. He also said the portion of the settlement that the borough will pay has already been figured into the annual budget for this year.
The council also voted Monday to discontinue offering free health insurance for members of the Borough Council beginning Jan. 1st, 2018. Two longtime members of the council, Republicans Art Pazan and Mike O’Hagan, are currently receiving the free insurance and will lose that benefit. Both Pazan and O’Hagan recused themselves from voting on the issue and the vote otherwise was unanimous, with Democrats Amy Martin, Skip Huisking, and Kristine Moreiko and Republican Bill Leonard all voting yes.