A Florida high school principal has been removed from his position after making a Facebook comment commending a Texas police officer who was caught on video throwing a teenage girl to the ground at a community pool party.
North Miami Senior High School Principal Alberto Iber has been assigned to administrative duties for the Miami-Dade School District until he is reassigned, WTVJ News reports (video below).
Iber’s social media comment defended the white police officer in McKinney, Texas who was recently captured on cellphone video throwing a 15-year-old African-American girl to the ground and then drawing his gun and waving it at a group of black teens.
The video quickly went viral, made national headlines, and added more questions to the ongoing national debate about how police officers interact with minority communities.
The officer in the video, David Eric Casebolt, resigned Tuesday after McKinney Police Chief Greg Conley publicly called the officer’s actions “indefensible,” according to a Miami Herald story.
But, responding to an earlier story about the McKinney incident, Iber said he saw nothing wrong with the way the officer handled the situation.
“He did nothing wrong,” Iber wrote on Facebook. “He was afraid for his life. I commend him for his actions.”
That comment apparently caught the eyes of Miami-Dade School District officials.
In a statement announcing Iber’s reassignment, Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said the principal showed poor judgement.
“Judgment is the currency of honesty,” Carvalho said. “Insensitivity — intentional or perceived — is both unacceptable and inconsistent with our policies, but more importantly with our expectation of common sense behavior that elevates the dignity and humanity of all, beginning with children.”
Miami-Dade County Board of Commissioners Chair Jean Monestime seemed to agree.
“It is very disappointing that an educator who is responsible for the safety and welfare of our children would publicize such rash statements,” Monestime said in a statement, quoted by the Herald. “I commend the district for taking the appropriate action to remedy this situation.”
Some students attending a summer basketball camp at North Miami High spoke with WTVJ. In videotaped interviews (shown below) some also suggested that their former principal didn’t use his best judgement and his comments could have been perceived as insensitive.
“If you're running a majority black school and you say a remark such as that people will not respect you,” said student Price Testinobles.
Roughly 99 percent of North Miami High’s students are minorities, The Herald reports.
But other students seemed to not be so sure.
"I don't think he meant it in a harmful way," said Cole Crawford.
Marie St. Hilaire, a paraprofessional at the school, told the Herald she thinks Iber was a “wonderful” principal.
“Mr Iber is all for the kids, even if he has to go out of his way and spend money out of his own pocket,” she said. “Sometimes we have our opinions and we disagree sometimes, but to tell him he can’t come to school because of that?”
Iber spoke to the Herald Tuesday and said he meant to post the comment anonymously and quickly removed it when he realized his name, picture and title was attached to the comment.
The next day he reportedly issued an apology. But screen shots of the comment had already begun circulating on social media.
“I regret that I posted the comment as it apparently became newsworthy and has apparently upset people,’’ Iber told the Herald. “That was not my intention in any way.”
School officials say they will name Iber’s replacement soon.