Damian Esteban was just another thirtysomething hipster-looking teacher at the Williamsburg High School for Architecture and Design until he got called in for jury duty last fall… and was arrested for allegedly bringing 20 vials of heroin in a cigarette pack into the courthouse with him.
The misdemeanor criminal charges against Esteban were eventually dropped when he attended a one-day (one-day?!?) rehab program. But the damage had been done: he was fired from his teaching job as a result of the arrest and ensuing publicity.
Fast forward to this week, when Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Manuel Mendez ordered the NYC Department of Education to take Esteban back (or at least, overturned the DoE’s previous decision, I’m not clear which). Judge Medez stated that the firing was “unduly harsh… [and] excessive and shocking to this court’s sense of fairness.”
According to the New York Observer, Mayor Bloomberg was “not amused” by the court’s decision.
“We could not disagree more strongly with the judge’s decision to overturn an arbitrator’s ruling terminating a teacher for possessing 20 bags of heroin,” the mayor said in a statement this afternoon.
“The judge ruled that the termination ‘shocks the conscience,’ which shows a callous indifference to the well-being of our students,” he added. “That truly shocks the conscience and boggles the mind.”
What do you think? Should drug offenders (in this case, ones who haven’t been convicted of a crime) be allowed to teach children? And if not, does that mean we should institute random drug testing for schoolteachers — or do you think Esteban shouldn’t get his job back because of the sheer publicity of the case alone?