A South Miami High School teacher accused of providing booze and condoms to students was officially fired Wednesday by the Miami-Dade School Board.
An Instagram photo was one of many pieces of evidence in the Miami-Dade County Public Schools investigation that ultimately led to dance teacher Isabel Diaz-Almaraz losing her job.
"Thank you Ms. D!," read the caption next to a photo of an assortment of alcohol, limes, boxes of Jello and condoms. The school board alleges Diaz-Almaraz, or Ms. D as she was affectionately known by students, violated school policies, by providing them with the alcohol and condoms.
Diaz-Almaraz was suspended without pay in September 2012, following allegations that she provided the items to the teens for their prom party.
"The Superintendent of Schools recommended that this teacher be terminated given all the revelations regarding her presence at an after prom party, the fact that she purchased the hotel room," said Carlos Curbelo, MDCPS Board Member.
On Wednesday, the school board agreed with superintendent Alberto Carvalho, voting unanimously to fire the educator. A 46-page document detailing the school board investigation suggests Diaz-Almaraz paid for a $1,000 penthouse suite with her own Pay Pal account for the after prom party.
Diaz-Almaraz testified she never saw alcohol in the suite. Students interviewed said they brought their own liquor and never saw the teacher drink. The school board believes the teacher's husband even spent time in the room, cooking for the group.
"I think there's a fine line between student/teacher and what you can provide for them," said Mercy Conde, a parent of a student at the school.
"Ms. Diaz-Almaraz’s interactions with her students reflect a deep immaturity and craving for their approval," the School Board claimed in the document.
"I've heard she was very nice, young, fun," Conde said.
Parents and a member of the Charmers - the school's dance team - said the educator, who coached the team, was well liked. A fellow teacher, who did not wish to be identified, called her "cool." He was surprised by the allegations that cost her the job.
The investigation also accused the woman of improperly handling booster club funds for "The Charmers." She allegedly even had an debit card she used. Only students and teachers were supposed to touch booster club money.
At least one parent, Marci Sigel, whose daughter was a member of the Charmers, vouched for the teacher. She wrote a letter to the school board, calling what happened to Diaz-Almaraz "a witch hunt."
"I do not believe at anytime Ms. D endangered my daughter," she said in the letter, adding that the teacher was a positive influence in the student's life.
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