One aspect of Ethics Alarms that provides me with both satisfaction and pride is that participants in the events that sparked particular ethics commentaries sometimes comment on the posts, providing fascinating and useful perspective. Such a comment arrived yesterday, a heart-felt and wrenching testimony by a former student who was one of the many abused by teacher Daniel Picca, in Montgomery County (Maryland) schools. My post had focused on the fact that his proclivities were well known by 1995, yet it took school administrators until 17 years later to fire him.
I also note, ruefully, that the original post concluded by pointing out that the tendency of those in positions of authority to postpone confronting reality, to avoid confrontation and to rationalize inaction even in the face of undeniable peril to others was mirrored in the U.S.’s irresponsible approach to the conduct of the leadership in Syria and Iran. It was written in 2012.
Here is Sergio Madrid’s Comment of the Day on the post, The Eventual Firing of Daniel Picca: Why Our Children Are Not Safe In Public School:
As a former student, this is all true. I was too young to know it back then, but this man is a calculating monster. Reading this story does not surprise me one bit.
Back in the day (early 90′s – Rachel Carson Elementary), he had kids from my neighborhood help him come clean his classroom and we did challenges for candy. He had a closet FULL of candy. I can reflect that his “Picca Magical Dollars” was an excellent motivator in the classroom – it was also my neighborhood’s downfall for young boys at the time. The magical bucks were used to buy candy on Fridays (if we chose to spend our money) and that candy was the bait for young boys. We were too young to even know. After school, we would clean his classroom and he would have me sit on his lap. He would have me flex and he squeezed my muscles. I do remember one incident where he squeezed and did not let go. I squirmed in agony and would back and head butt him – busted his lip and he got up and yelled at me to leave his room and go home.
Too bad I’m late. I really wish I would have stepped up on this man. He IS a monster and let me tell you …. he single-handedly destroyed all my African American and Latino friends in 5th grade with his malicious words and style. They were targets from day one and NEVER recovered to be successful students in school. I still remember all this some 20-25 years later.
Although I do not know where he currently is, keep this man away from ANY schools with young children. If one person reads this – please understand it’s very real and true. I didn’t hide my real name. He was my 5th grade teacher. Real shame and sad to read these articles.
3 thoughts on “Comment of the Day #1: The Eventual Firing of Daniel Picca: Why Our Children Are Not Safe In Public School”
I’m truly sorry at the terrible price you paid for giving me a sense of perspective on my own issues.
So while you have my thanks and gratitude – the price was too high. I wish you hadn’t paid it.
If there’s anything you think I can do, not to make things better, for nothing can do that, but to make them less worse, please tell me.
“Sorry” doesn’t cut it. There is no way to express my feelings to you on this. People in power (teachers, priests/ministers, bosses) use their power over the young and/or powerless all the time. Often they’re not caught because they deal in fear, and victims just can’t step forward; they only want to get away from it and beyond it. Why institutions leave these sociopaths in place without taking immediate action (including jail time) is not ignorance, nor ineffectiveness, nor idiocy. It is also THEIR fear — that their institutions will get bad publicity, that their choice of employees is exposed as unbelievably stupid, that they will be revealed as employers who don’t/won’t/can’t vet potential employees, that their own jobs may be at stake.
I think there is a statute of limitations for criminal prosecution of child abuse, but don’t know if there is one on civil cases. You and your classmates (can you find them?) should file a civil suit against the Montgomery County Schools (their narcissistic attitude about their system is sickening) and the Rachel Carson Elementary School (old Rachel is turning over in her grave, I expect). If you can’t do that, then get back on this website and ask for donations — so you all can pay for a full page ad in the Washington Post exposing Montgomery County and the school. You might at least get some satisfaction from that. And I would contribute, as I’m sure others would, too. (Recall that some years ago, a simple classified ad in New York — “Remember Father _____?” — brought out hundreds of men who had been abused by this priest. He went to jail.)
Find out from a legal source about a civil suit, and consider the full page ad. More people need to know about this. And parents, especially, who need to teach their kids that there’s a difference between respect for elders and people in power and FEAR of them. The minute fear enters the picture, the kids need to tell someone about it, with the assurance that parents/friends/extended family have their backs.
The school administrators who knew of Picca’s pedophilia and did nothing share fully in his guilt. In many states, there is no statute of limitations on crimes against children. If this is so in Maryland, there should be a lot of trials scheduled right now. Given the leftist infamy of Montgomery County, however, I think that’s unlikely for the near future.