The principal of North Miami Senior High was swiftly removed from his position on Wednesday after he waded into a racially-charged national debate about how police treat minorities.
The Miami-Dade County school district announced Wednesday that Alberto Iber had been assigned to administrative duties in district offices after he went online to defend a white police officer who waved a gun at black teens while responding to a call about an unruly pool party in McKinney, Texas.
In a brief statement, the district said employees are required to conduct themselves, both personally and professionally, in a manner that represents the school district’s core values.
“Judgment is the currency of honesty,” said Superintendent of Schools Alberto Carvalho. “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.”
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The district’s decision to remove Iber, which attracted national media attention with stories by the Washington Post and BuzzFeed, won praise from many.
“It is very disappointing that an educator who is responsible for the safety and welfare of our children would publicize such rash statements,” Miami-Dade County Board of Commissioners Chair Jean Monestime said in a statement. “I commend the district for taking the appropriate action to remedy this situation.”
But others defended Iber, saying he was expressing a personal opinion that shouldn’t oust him as a principal.
Marie St. Hilaire, a paraprofessional at the school, lamented the loss of Iber. She called him a “wonderful” principal who recently danced on stage during the school’s field day.
“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,” St. Hilaire said. “Sometimes we have our opinions and we disagree sometimes, but to tell him he can’t come to school because of that?”
Cellphone footage of white police officer David Eric Casebolt throwing a black teenage girl to the ground, then briefly drawing his gun while responding to a call about an unruly pool party in McKinney, Texas, last week has become the latest incident to capture nationwide attention in the debate over race and policing. Casebolt resigned Tuesday after police chief Greg Conley called the officer’s actions “indefensible.”
On Monday, Iber commented on a news story about the Texas incident using his Facebook account with his picture, name and title.
“He did nothing wrong,” Iber wrote. “He was afraid for his life. I commend him for his actions.”
At North Miami Senior High, 99 percent of students are minorities. A majority of residents in the city of North Miami, in Northeast Miami-Dade, are black.
Iber has said he meant to post the comment anonymously, and it was quickly removed. The next day, he issued an apology.
“I regret that I posted the comment as it apparently became newsworthy and has apparently upset people,’’ he told the Miami Herald on Tuesday. “That was not my intention in any way.”
But the comment — and angry responses to it — were captured in screen shots that were quickly circulated over the Web.
Ambrose Sims — a retired, black police officer — took Iber to task online. Sims called the principal “part of the problem.” On Wednesday, Sims had nothing but praise for the school district’s decision to remove Iber.
“I strongly agree with the superintendent,” Sims said. “A person who is a school leader, who strives to be a good school leader, must exercise good judgment. And in this case, clearly, Mr. Iber did not exercise good judgment.”
The district said a replacement for the school would be named shortly.
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