Controversial comment earns North Miami principal a reprimand

Alberto Iber, former principal of North Miami Senior High
Alberto Iber, former principal of North Miami Senior High Courtesy photo

Almost four months after the principal at North Miami Senior High caused a firestorm with a social media comment supporting a Texas police officer's tough treatment of black teens, the Miami-Dade County school district still hasn’t decided what to do with him.

After an internal investigation, completed in August but not released until late last week, the district issued Alberto Iber an official reprimand. But no decision has been made about what Iber, who has been on administrative assignment, will do next. It’s possible he will be a principal again but at another school.

“He erred in judgment but he had been a good principal so right now we’re just waiting to see where we place him,” said Miami-Dade County schools spokeswoman Daisy Gonzalez-Diego.

Iber has contested the move, backed by Superintendent Alberto Carvalho, to remove him from North Miami High. In July, six weeks after he was removed, Iber filed a federal complaint contending he was being discriminated against because he was a Hispanic principal at a 90 percent black school.

On Monday, he provided the Miami Herald with a copy of the complaint filed to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. In it, he contends he was unfairly retaliated against him because of his national origin and race.

“I have been notified by several employees (including some in management within Miami Dade County Public Schools who fear retaliation if I were to disclose their names) that similar situations have occurred with MDCPS and no disciplinary action has been taken,” Iber’s complaint reads.

Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., an attorney for Iber, said the long delay in reassigning Iber is unacceptable.

“Every day that he is not in a classroom or a school setting is tantamount to additional discipline,” Taylor said.

He erred in judgment but he had been a good principal so right now we’re just waiting to see where we place him.”

Miami-Dade County schools spokeswoman Daisy Gonzalez-Diego

Iber became the center of a controversy in June after commenting on a story on the Miami Herald website about a white officer in McKinney, Texas, who waved a gun at a group of teens at a community pool and tackled one girl. The incident, which was caught on camera, became part of a national debate about how law enforcement officials treat minorities. The officer, David Eric Casebolt, later resigned after the police chief called his actions “indefensible.”

Before the officer had resigned, Iber wrote on Facebook that Casebolt “did nothing wrong.”

“He was afraid for his life. I commend him for his actions,” Iber wrote.

The Miami Herald uses a commenting system through Facebook, and Iber’s post included his picture and title as principal of North Miami Senior, a school where 99 percent of students are minorities.

Iber’s comment prompted days of profanity-laced phone calls to the school and faxes with angry messages, school employees told district investigators. One teacher told investigators that members of her tennis team “were disturbed by the comment.” Iber was immediately removed from his post and was given an alternative assignment at a regional office while district leaders investigated.

Iber was reprimanded Aug. 18 in a letter that said his comments reflected poorly on himself and the district and had violated the code of ethics. “Moreover, you failed to take reasonable precautions to distinguish between personal views and those of M-DCPS.”

A new principal has already taken over North Miami Senior, so Iber won’t be getting that position back. He could end up leading another school, or he could remain at the regional office where he has been working since June.

As for Iber’s discrimination complaint, the district said it doesn’t comment on open investigations.

Christina Veiga: 305-376-2029, @cveiga