The principal of North Miami Senior High School inadvertently injected himself into the racially charged national debate over police treatment of blacks with a social media comment — and it wound up costing him his position at the school.
The Miami-Dade County school district announced Wednesday that Alberto Iber had been removed as principal after going online to defend a white Texas police officer who waved a gun at black teens while responding to a call about an unruly pool party.
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. The district said a replacement would be named shortly and that Iber would be reassigned to administrative duties.
“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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Cellphone footage from McKinney, Texas, caught white officer David Eric Casebolt throwing a black teenage girl to the ground, then briefly drawing his gun while responding to a call about an raucous pool party. The incident last week was just the latest in a string of encounters that have sparked charges of abusive police treatment of minorities.
Iber — in a brief public post on a story on the Miami Herald’s website — defended the officer’s response.
“He did nothing wrong,” Iber wrote in a comment that showed his Facebook picture, name, school and title. “He was afraid for his life. I commend him for his actions.”
Iber’s stance quickly prompted a passionate online response from Ambrose Sims, a black, retired Miami Beach Police veteran who joined the force at a time of racial strife in Miami in the 1980s. He also came out as gay and led a campaign for equal rights. Sims wrote, in part: “Such a comment reveals to me that you’re a serious part of the problem.”
Iber’s comment — which was removed after a few hours but not before being captured in screen grabs that were circulated in the community — also raised eyebrows in North Miami, a diverse city in northeast Miami-Dade where a majority of residents are black. The student body at his school also is 99 percent minority, according to state records.
Alix Desulme, a recently elected councilman who is Haitian-American and also a school teacher, said he was “appalled.”
“For him to make such a comment is insensitive to the community,” Desulme said.
Iber responded to a reporter’s questions on Tuesday by reading a prepared statement.
“I support law enforcement, and also the community and students that I serve as the proud principal of North Miami Senior High,’’ he said. “The comment I posted was simply made as the result of a short video that I watched and my personal opinion.”
Iber, who just finished his first year as the head of North Miami Senior, said he meant to write the comment anonymously.
“I regret that I posted the comment as it apparently became newsworthy and has apparently upset people,’’ he said. “That was not my intention in any way.”
Casebolt’s behavior was not viewed favorably by McKinney Police Chief Greg Conley, who in a Tuesday news conference called the officer’s actions “indefensible.” Shortly after, the officer announced his resignation.
Miami Herald reporter Lance Dixon and WLRN News reporter Nadege Green contributed to this report.
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