Special report: Safe Schools
RIALTO -- Roughly two months after the incident that got him put on leave, Rialto High band teacher "Doc" Jack Poster pleaded for his job.
"I am (asking) you to appeal the school district's decision to terminate my employment," Poster told the Rialto Unified school board on Wednesday night.
The eight-year veteran band teacher was placed on administrative leave in mid-December after he reportedly was in a fistfight with one of his students.
Poster spoke to school board members before they went into the closed session part of their meeting. (Closed sessions are reserved for business where there are privacy concerns, including legal matters and personnel issues.)
The week before winter break, things reportedly came to a head when a group of boys wouldn't quiet down during Poster's "History of Rock and Roll Class."
Poster reportedly sent two students out of class, at least one of whom took issue with the disciplinary action. The teacher followed the boys out of the classroom and a physical altercation reportedly ensued.
Citing the ongoing investigation into what happened, district officials have declined to comment on the alleged incident.
"I would like the opportunity to discuss this situation at length with this board," he said.
His earlier hearing and the investigation, Poster alleged, were flawed. The substitute security guard who was one of several adults called in to break up the fistfight, was "lying or mistaken on multiple levels."
"A huge mistake was made in this case," he said.
Band competition season is fast approaching, with the highlight being a New York City trip in April. At the moment, the competitions, and the class, are being overseen by a substitute teacher.
"The band going to New York won't adequately represent Rialto Unified as a superior music entity," Poster said.
According to the Rialto High website, Poster has been a professional trumpet player for 48 years, and holds two bachelor's of music degrees, two master's of music degrees, a master of administration degree, a doctoral degree and a national board certification.
He has the sympathy of at least some of his students, who spoke at Wednesday night's meeting, as they had at the board's Jan. 23 meeting.
"Our band cannot afford to have someone new lead us at this point," drum major Kimberly Ross said. "We need our teacher back."
A petition signed by 674 teachers, staff, students and parents was presented to the board Wednesday night.
"It breaks my heart to have the students go through this," mother Patricia Guzman said. "Please, it's not fair."
The board made no decision about his case Wednesday night, according to Rialto Unified spokeswoman Syeda Jafri, and any disciplinary decisions would be scheduled for a future meeting, if the district goes forward with disciplinary actions.
Rialto High mother Angie Torres, whose child was in the "History of Rock and Roll" class in December, opposes Poster returning to the school.
"Since one teacher got away with it, are the other teachers going to do it, too, because one got away with it?" she said Thursday. "I don't think it was right for him to put his hands on a student. He just went ballistic on a student, and that's not appropriate for an adult, especially a teacher."
If he is fired, Poster said while the board was in closed session, he'd take the district to court and fight the decision "all the way."
"I am seriously, seriously apologetic about the situation that took place between (the student) and me," Poster said.
beau.yarbrough@InlandNewspapers.com, 909-483-9376, @InlandEd