NEW BRITAIN – Newly released documents show that DiLoreto Magnet School Principal Alejandro Ortiz threatened a teacher with discipline for supporting fourth grade staff members after two students brought weapons to school and apologized “for dropping the ball on this serious incident” about two days after it occurred.
Ortiz, who was offered the job as principal at DiLoreto in 2013, received a four-day suspension over “inappropriate” comments he made to staff and for his failing to follow school protocols in the days after the two students were removed from school.
“Unfortunately I have no comment,” Ortiz said Friday afternoon before hanging up when The Herald called seeking to speak to him about the documents.
A time line written by fourth grade teachers provided to school administrators investigating how Ortiz dealt with the weapon incident indicates that one of the two fourth grade students held a box cutter to the back of a female student and threatened to kill her. Another student came forward and said he was asked to be a part of a plot to “kill all the teachers, everyone in the office,” and “rape” two females including a fourth grade teacher.
Fourth grade teachers were alerted to the weapons by a student who said a classmate had a knife in his locker and threatened him with “if you mess with me I’m going to kill you.” Other students reported that one of the boys with the weapons wanted to have “sex” with a fourth grade and “then kill her.”
Early on staff were upset at the way the 53-year-old Ortiz, a former principal in Bridgeport Schools, handled the incident, the documents received through a Freedom of Information request. Staff had to insist that Ortiz meet with them April 19 about not allowing the two students back into the school unless the issue was properly addressed, the teachers said. Ortiz initially suspended the boys for three days and then later lengthened the suspension to eight days.
During a meeting with fourth grade teachers on April 19, Ortiz apologized for “dropping the ball” and said he had called the state Department of Children and Families but did not want to call police because the student had “social emotional issues” and “he did not want to put him in the system.” During the meeting, Ortiz commented to the teacher the students had threatened to rape that “you’re a hot babe and you’re really popular.”
The same teacher also called police on April 19 to request that an officer show up at the school to take statements from fourth grade staff, the documents said. While the police officer was at the school, staff learned that the information about the incident had not been recorded in the school’s disciplinary system. Ortiz had told staff that it had been, the teachers said.
Ortiz also requested a meeting with a teacher at another grade level who he accused of “slandering” him by supporting fourth grade staff in the aftermath of the incident. Ortiz called the woman “sweetheart” during the exchange in front of a teacher’s union representative and threatened to discipline her for “gossip.” At one point during the meeting Ortiz asked if the woman had made any “sexual comments” about him, the documents said.
Fourth grade parents weren’t formally notified of the incident until eight days after it occurred, teachers said. Ortiz sent out an automated phone message to all school parents on May 13, after the incident had been reported in the news.
The school system’s Public Affairs Specialist Matthew Cannata referred The Herald to the statement sent out on May 16 describing the knife incident. He no other comments would be forthcoming. Sal Escobales, the president of the local teacher’s union also declined to comment.
Lisa Backus can be reached at 860-801-5066 or Lbackus@centralctcommunications.com.