Sunday, April 26, 2009

Is the Truth in the Middle?

I wasn't going to blog about Francisco Garabitos, the Bronx Middle School teacher who allegedly created a bomb scare in his school. The case seemed a slam dunk against the guy. The police were there, reporters were saying that he barricaded himself in his classroom and claimed to have a bomb, and the school was evacuated. It seemed a clear case of just a teacher who had snapped, no different than when other people snap. All I could think was thank God there were no injuries.

Now, I'm not going to defend the guy. What he did was clearly wrong. But what was also wrong, apparently, was the whole bomb scare story. This morning's Post reports that Garabitos was not charged with a bomb threat, or even any sort of felony. He was released, without ANY bail, with three misdemeanor charges against him, including criminal trespass, obstructing governmental administration and disorderly conduct.

Now he most certainly did barricade himself in his room, as you can hear in the audio clip (BTW, I apologize in advance for the Bloomberg commercial at the start of the audio. I won't even discuss the irony of it being there). He claims he was making a political statement. Maybe he thought he was. I don't know. But I do know they wouldn't have released him without bail had he made an actual bomb threat.

As the school's union leader, Garabitos was charged 14 times with corporal punishment with 2 charges substantiated, according to the Post. What the Post doesn't say is why those other 12 accusations went nowhere, and what the alleged abuse was. Did he simply raise his voice at kids? I know admins who WILL charge teachers with corporal punishment if they yell and the admins don't happen to like you.

Apparently, Principal Dorald Bastian was not quite a beloved man. According to the Post, "The episode came just a month after 20 teachers sent a letter to the school superintendent that said tensions with Bastian had become so acrimonious that 60 percent of the staff had left the school over the last two years."

So where is the truth here? Clearly, the newspapers and TV reports didn't bother to do their jobs until after the fact--they heard someone say "bomb scare" and ran with that story until it became the "truth". Garabitos is no angel here and can not be excused for his actions no matter what the provocation, but he is also not the psycho or criminal he was painted to be.


Anonymous said...

I work in this building, though not in that particular school. And while I absolutely do not agree with what Mr. Garabitos did, I do think that he and his colleagues have important points to make. I hope they don't get lost in all the anti-teacher/anti-union fallout that seems to be all over the mainstream media. Things are a mess in that school. The kids are out of control. If anything, this proves the need for teacher unions because the teachers in this school were having their rights violated every day. One of the most amazing, dedicated teachers I know left that school and told me that the principal had found fault with her teaching. (Can't believe she was able to get hired elsewhre since she is one of the dreaded, higher-paid people. Kudos to the principal who went for quality over quantity!) Now, no one is perfect but I have known this woman for many years and she is fabulous. I am surprised that it hasn't been mentioned this pricipal is also from the Principals' Academy.

Mr. Talk said...

Thanks for that bit of information. Talking about this is kind of like being the person who believed that OJ deserved a fair trial. Everyone believed he was guilty, so there was never any need to look at the other side.

I think this teacher did the wrong thing, no matter the provocation, but this issue is already being used as a political football. You can bet Klein and Co. will blame this event of the teacher's union and those "crazy" senior teachers.

There was no bomb, and apparently no bomb threat, if the Post's article is to be believed. Even the police didn't charge this guy with anything very serious. Should he be fired? Yes, in my opinion. He did something really stupid that scared a lot of people and could have potentially harmed students. I don't think he should be in a classroom ever again. But a terrorist he is not. A mad bomber he is not. Most likely, he's a poor goop who got really angry at his principal and decided to do something incredibly stupid.

Chaz said...

According to the DOE and the New York Post, the Principal is blameless. Again the double standard between teachers and Administrators.

proofoflife said...

As a CL I feel this CL pain. I too think it was a stupid tactic, but when you are under attack on a daily basis by a principal who is out to get you things can get out of hand. I hope this guy gets a fair shake.

Anonymous said...

ok now i know for a fact that the things that garabitos is saying isnt true ok fact one he did this not even 24 hours before he put his hand on a child fact two that isnt the only child he has put his hands on and he wants to sit there and act like the principal has got it out for him when in reality the principal is trying very hard to have the school in an orderly fashion the teachers are the ones that are making this harder you dont work against your boss you do your best to work with him. Yes the principal is a little hard headed but his heart is in the right place he wants what is best for these kids from their education to their safety. Garabitos needs to state the truth before his world really tumbles cause there are parents that will press charges on him because he has put his hands on too many children and this has been a long time coming that is the only reason that he is reacting that way.

Anonymous said...

Anon 3:42 Why are there letters/petitions signed by teachers IN THAT SCHOOL supporting the principal's removal? Why are teachers leaving in droves? Some terrific teachers who I worked with when the building was unified have left. I once saw two kids run by him at top speed when they were supposed to be in class. Guess what he said to them? NOTHING. Maybe his heart is in the right place but his management tactics are not working. And while I do not agree with many of the things that Mr. Garrabitos did, I do believe what he's saying. I think a lot of people who work in that building believe him, even if they think he's nuts.