Update in Florida “wizardry” fiasco – school administrator denies accusations

In fact, assistant superintendent Renalia DuBose told the St. Petersburg Times, it wasn’t the magic trick at all. Rather, the district had written reports from the principal and a teacher at Rushe Middle School detailing Piculas’ use of profane language, his inability to control the class and his decision to put a student in charge – something the student’s parent complained about.

But those details got drowned out as the tale bounced from blog to blog. It was the wizardry angle, with all its Harry Potter imagery, that grabbed the spotlight.

Full Story: St. Petersberg Times

(via OVO)

It will be interesting to see if this story circulates as widely as the last one. Somehow I doubt it.

Previously: Florida substitute teacher fired for wizardry

Update: Another update with more details


  1. Snorkmaster Flex

    May 20, 2008 at 11:50 pm

    Especially since it’s blatant administrative ass-covering.

  2. I think the journalism on all of this has been extraordinarily shoddy. That first story I linked to didn’t even have a response from the administration. The second one had the administration’s response buried several grafs down.

    None of these reporters has dug into the evidence at all. If the administration has written reports, as they claim, of prior wrong-doing, then it’s probably an open and shut case: Piculas made up the “wizardry” thing. Have the reporters asked to look at this stuff? Did they call the supervisor of substitute teachers? The supervisor could back-up Piculas’s story. Right now it’s Piculas’s word against the school’s.

  3. See “Helter Stupid” by Negativland.

  4. Snorkmaster Flex

    May 21, 2008 at 11:50 am

    The journalism may have been shoddy; in the reports I read, the administration declined to comment.

    In any case, it’s the administration’s word against Piculas’ word.

    I choose to believe Piculas because of trend of school administrations firing teachers and substitute teachers for stupid, bull-shit reasons, the fact that American schools are really prisons, intellectual strait-jackets, and pharmaceutical-customer prospecting sites, amongst other things, in disguise, and the fact that Florida is one of the states that views “creationism” and the theory of evolution as theories of equal merit.

    Russ Kick at Disinfo posted several links to a story picked up by the NY Times about how an art teacher of 20+ years got fired because a kid saw a nude statute at a museum.

    My high-school band director got reprimanded for having the band play a song about the firebombing of Dresden because one of the parents or grandparents complained that it was sympathetic towards Nazi-era Germany.

    As far as I’m concerned, the burden is on the administration. In any case, such institutions are not above lying and fabricating evidence for the sake of expedience.

  5. Snork – just because schools have fired people for stupid reasons before doesn’t mean I should believe one side more than the other. People have taken newspaper reporters for some wild rides before as well.

    Oh well, perhaps if I have time next week I can do some investigation of my own.

  6. It’s also relevant whether the school “declined to comment” or if they just weren’t asked.

  7. Snorkmaster Flex

    May 22, 2008 at 1:57 pm


    Keep in mind I write with the assumption that neither you or I will ever investigate this, and even if we did, we would still come no closer to the “truth” because it’s a case of he said / she said.

    Thus, I reveal my anti-authoritarianism bias by choosing to believe Piculas over the administration.

  8. So he wasn’t fired for wizardry, but because he cursed? I’m sure what he said wasn’t anywhere near as bad as the Jay-Z and 50 Cent -or, more likely in Florida, Toby Keith-CDs in the kids’ backpacks. Besides, some of the best teachers I’ve had-in fact, now that I think of it, ALL of the good teachers I’ve had-would occasionally use foul language, because they were at ease with themselves enough that they could focus on the subject without consciously trying to seem “proper.”

  9. I think the biggest problem they had with him was that he put a student in charge of the classroom. That’s what kept coming up in my conversation with school officials. That raised serious red flags with parents who are sending their kids to school expecting that they’re going to be taken care of and then they hear their kids are being looked after by other kids.

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