Hillcrest School Principal Apologizes For ‘Lapse In Judgment’ In Discipline Incident

Hillcrest Elementary School principal Albert Fico, right, apologized for his “lapse in judgment.”

Hillcrest Elementary School principal Albert J. Fico has apologized for his “lapse in judgment” in his disciplining of a student two weeks ago.

Fico took vacation time the last few days of the school year while the incident was being investigated by district administration.

The principal is expected to be back in the building on June 19, when he will be interviewed and the investigation will be wrapped up, schools Superintendent John Ravally said.

“Sometimes students make decisions and make mistakes managing their own behavior,” Ravally said. “Principals counsel them, guidance counselors counsel them. The intention was good.”

The issue was first brought to light in a June 8 letter to parents from Orvyl Wilson, the district’s director of school management.

“As you may be hearing, yesterday a student at Hillcrest Elementary School reported an incident to his/her parent, which involved the discipline of another student by a staff member,” Wilson wrote. “The student’s account caused some concern and the parent reported the incident to the central office administration. As is the case with all reports of this nature, an investigation is being conducted to ascertain the facts.”

In his June 14 letter to parents, Fico attempted to address rumors of the incident that apparently have been cropping up.

“The actual account of what occurred is different from some of the accounts that I believe are being repeated throughout the community,” he wrote.

Fico wrote that as a principal, it’s his responsibility to maintain a “positive school climate that is safe and orderly for all students. To that end, there are occasions when I need to counsel students on their behavior.”

“Last week while addressing a situation involving a student who was experiencing behavioral difficulties I, during a counseling session, arrived at a solution that some have perceived as causing humiliation or harm to the student,” Fico wrote. “Please understand that this was not the case and certainly not my intention. My intention was to problem solve and work with the student to help the student address the behavioral difficulties.”

Fico wrote that in hindsight, he could see how his actions could be perceived as “inappropriate,” and that his action constituted a “lapse in judgment.”

“I would like to apologize for any anxiety that this has caused the Hillcrest Community,” he wrote.

“Please know that the safety and wellbeing (sic) of our students and school community is my primary concern,” Fico wrote. “It is because of that concern that I have stepped aside and taken a voluntary leave of absence until this school year ends while the district thoroughly investigates this matter.”

Ravally said that Fico took several vacation days.

Ravally backed up Fico’s defense in his letter.

“What you’re hearing in the community is not what we’ve learned,” Ravally said. “The facts as we know them don’t seem to align.”

“The kid was having a bad day,” he said. “They were sitting down and talking about strategies in which to self-manage behavior.”

Ravally said district officials have spoken to the student’s parents.


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