I’ve had a draft of this post lying around since the end of May but kept putting off finishing it up. At the end of June I saw Mr. Piculas on the Colbert Report so I wrote some more and now that he’s in the news again I figured I’d better finish it up.
Via this post at the Bad Astronomy Blog and further research, I’ve learned some new information pertaining to a story I wrote about two months ago. In the May 18th St. Petersburg Times, staff writer Jeffrey S. Solochek has an article titled, Internet story of Pasco ‘wizard’ teacher spreads like magic. The article says there where many abusive calls and emails delivered to the school and school board members. I find it very stupid of people to have contacted the school and school board to ridicule and insult them. I certainly didn’t advocate this and neither did any of the blogs I linked to or read.
In going over the coverage of this story I found some very odd inconsistencies in the documents that the school board provided to WTSP-TV. On this follow up story page there are PDF copies of the official dismissal form and the official letter to Mr. Piculas. The dismissal form and official letter are no longer available at those links, I still have copies I downloaded if anyone needs them.
These are the odd things I noticed:
1. Letter mentions the magic trick but the dismissal form does not.
2. Dismissal form mentions inappropriate language but the letter does not.
3. Letter says incident occurred 1/16/2008 the dismissal form states it was 1/17/2008.
4. Dismissal form has a placeholder for the substitute teachers signature but it is blank.
5. Dismissal form has a scribbled over date at the start of 2/??/08 and next to it 1/23/08.
6. Dismissal form was faxed from the school on 2/12/2008 (upside down on the bottom of the form, picture rotated).
The most suspicious discrepancy to me is the crossed out date by the principal. The crossed out date of 2/??/08 points to the document actually being written after the letter of dismissal, not before as implied by the 1/23 date. It looks like he originally wrote 2/12/08 but of course it could just be pareidolia. Viewing the original document under magnification would provide a clearer picture of the situation.
If the principal and school board wanted to cover up the original complaint of wizardry as Mr. Piculsa described it, they could have filed a second dismissal form on 2/12 with a false date making it appear as if it was filed on 1/23. It looks to me as if there was a previous dismissal form filed before the 1/28 letter and this was a later revision to remove the wizardry accusation that was on the original dismissal form. But that’s just my opinion, without further examination of the original dismissal form the truth of the situation can not be determined accurately.
Now I read that Mr. Piculas has filed a lawsuit based on unspecified discrepancies in the documents. I wonder if faking County School records is a criminal offense in LOL Florida.
Here’s a couple of quotes from the latest Tampa Tribune article emphasis mine:
Jeffrey Gordon, the Tampa attorney representing Piculas, said the school district defamed his client by making untrue accusations about his classroom performance that have affected his efforts to teach in other districts.
Gordon said he thinks the evidence will show the other claims about Piculas’ performance were trumped-up charges that were added later and that documents mentioning them were retroactively predated. None of the other complaints came up in the conversation with the human resources supervisor, Gordon said.
“They never suggested he did anything wrong other than performing the magic trick,” he said.
I’m glad Mr. Piculas got someone to look into these documents, I emailed Ronnie Blair of The Tampa Tribune pointing out these oddities back in May but I never had a reply. I’m guessing my email was written off as some conspiracy minded rambling as I’m sure much of the email they get is. I’d really like for the whole story to come out but I won’t be surprised if the County simply buys Mr. Piculas and his lawyers silence.
Links to local media reports:
Substitute Teacher Says Wizardry Accusation Cost Him Job by Ronnie Blair, The Tampa Tribune, Published: May 5, 2008
Presto! Teacher Out Of A Job By Ronnie Blair, The Tampa Tribune, Published: May 6, 2008
Here’s The Trick To Becoming A Laughingstock by Daniel Ruth, The Tampa Tribune, Published: May 15, 2008
Magic trick costs teacher job WTSP-TV May 5, 2008
Magician: I’ve worked at Pasco County schools WTSP-TV May 13, 2008
Internet story of Pasco ‘wizard’ teacher spreads like magic By Jeffrey S. Solochek, St. Petersburg Times, Published: May 18, 2008
Former Teacher Plans Lawsuit By Ronnie Blair, The Tampa Tribune, Published: July 8, 2008
Fired Pasco substitute teacher plans lawsuit By Jeffrey S. Solochek, St. Petersburg Times, Published: July 8, 2008
An update to this article is here.