On December 8, we told you the story of Miguel Arango, a legal alien and former teacher at Julian T. Saldivar Elementary School near Love Field who says, in a federal lawsuit filed against the Dallas Independent School District, he was jailed and threatened with deportation after a student alleged Arango "touched her inappropriately." On Friday, DISD filed its response to Arango's lawsuit, and the district either denies Arango's allegations or says that yeah, this or that might have happened, but the district's "without knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief about the truth of the remaining allegations." It's a fairly common response in a suit such as this.
The district does deny, repeatedly, that Dana Davis, an administrative investigator for the district, did anything wrong by visiting with Arango while in jail and getting him to sign a resignation form -- even though he wasn't allowed to visit with an attorney, before or during Davis' visit, as Arango alleges. The district says Davis is "entitled to qualified immunity" and shouldn't be named in the suit.
Arango is still in the Lew Sterrett Justice Center, more than two months after he was first arrested for the unlawful touching of the female student. "I wish it weren't so," says Arango's attorney, Julie Heath. "That's the whole point of the civil suit: The break in his employment has created this immigration problem." Heath says that by staying in Dallas County, at least he can be near friends. If Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) were to take custody, "We don't know where he would go," Heath says.
Arango will stay in custody at the very least till U.S. District Judge Jerry Buchmeyer puts the case on his docket. Heath expects a status conference "some time soon." Still, Heath maintains, "This is the last teacher in the world you expect this to happen to. So much about this case needs to be flushed out in to the open."
Since the initial posting on December 8, we received several missives from people claiming to know Arango or claiming to have taught in the district and heard of his plight. None wanted to use their names. But one who sent an e-mail regarding the Arango story did respond to Unfair Park's request for corroborating information. Alas, while this person gave their name and some information about Arango that Heath confirms, DISD officials failed to confirm this former teacher's employment in the district, despite several attempts on our end. And now the district offices are closed for the holidays.
This e-mailer claims to have been a second-grade bilingual teacher at Saldivar from August 2004 till December 2004; Arango was there at the time and also teaching bilingual education in second grade. Says the writer, "We used to teach at the portables and never heard any student or parent complained about Miguel. He is a gentleman with values." This former teacher also has other things to say about the district and the way it treats teachers in the U.S. on visas:
"I experienced the way the DISD treats its teachers. They don't care at all. They make it very difficult for people out of the country to adapt to the new job, they make us pay enormous amount of money in order to be there, to get the working visa, always asking more and more money and make our jobs miserable. I have many bad experiences with the DISD and especially working in Julian Saldivar.
It's so sad that the teachers there feel they have no rights, no opinion, and whatever an angry student or parent says, that's the law for the principal without hearing the teacher. Fortunately my luck changed and I went back to Mexico, so I didn't need to be working for the DISD any longer. I was there for the American dream, because they make it seem like a great job, but once you are there you realize it's all fake."
As we mentioned before, DISD offices are closed for the holidays, and no one could be reached for a response. --Robert Wilonsky