MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The Miami-Dade School Board voted Wednesday to uphold the termination of a teacher who was fired for allegedly providing alcohol and condoms to students.
Isabel Diaz-Almaraz was a dance teacher at South Miami High School before being suspended without pay in 2012 after a parent expressed concerns of her behavior with students.
An administrative law judge found Diaz-Almaraz actions showed a “deep immaturity,” but he didn’t think she should be fired for it.
The school board disagreed.
“The standard of conduct, particularly behaviors that could jeopardize the safety of children, has to be upheld,” Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said.
A photo of a “party platter” posted on Instagram was likely the catalyst for her termination.
The photo showed an assortment of booze, breath mints, power drinks and condoms with a caption that read, “Thank you Mrs. D!!!”
Diaz-Almaraz admitted to using her paypal account to rent a hotel room for more than a dozen students for prom night in 2012.
She said she went by the suite and provided the kids with various toiletries, but denies purchasing any alcohol or condoms for the students.
“Being at the room is not something she should have done,” attorney Mark S. Herdman said. “She acknowledged that and has taken responsibility for that.”
Herdman argued a 6-month suspension was adequate punishment.
“She is a Miami person. She lives in Miami,” Herdman said. “She gets fired from this and it ends her career.”
“This is a judgment issue. And that’s why it comes back to us. Because we’re responsible,” School Board Member Dr. Lawrence Feldman said. “We’re responsible for the welfare of all of our children. Not to have to hope that something doesn’t happen.”
Carvalho thanked the board for agreeing with his recommendation.
“It is the right decision, albeit a difficult decision,” he said. “Today, we protect kids. That is what we are charged with doing.”
Diaz-Almaraz did not respond to our request for comment.