The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Students back teacher in spite of allegations

By Shirlett Warren/editor-in-chief

SE President William Coppola meets with a group of students about government instructor Darrell Castillo                        Photo by Eric Rebosio

A group of nearly 30 SE students met with campus president William Coppola Nov. 20 to show support for a government instructor who they fear might lose his job.

While the allegations against Darrell Castillo are not clear, two students complained about his lectures and method of teaching to SE humanities divisional dean Josué Muñoz.

“He’s being accused of being homophobic, sexist and racist,” SE student Dalia Riojas said. “But his lectures are being taken out of context.”

Coppola agreed to meet with the students and took time to shake hands with every attendee before the meeting came to order. When he sat down, he told the students that he was there only to take notes and listen to their words of support for Castillo.

“Stick to supporting the professor,” Coppola said.

Coppola and vice president of academic affairs Barbara Coan sat and listened as student after student gave words of support for Castillo. Whenever a student asked about Castillo’s job or questioned why certain classes were not on WebAdvisor for registration, neither Coppola or Coan responded.

Coppola would not comment on the matter. Coan said she would not discuss the allegations against Castillo.

“College policy and

FERPA (Federal Education Rights and Privacy Act) do not allow discussion of confidential information by any employee. I have no information regarding any employee to share with you,” Coan wrote in an email.

Riojas said Castillo told her he was teaching a Texas Government course in the spring. She said when she tried to register for the class, his name was not on the posted schedule.

“All the other Texas Government classes had names, and there was just one class that didn’t,” she said.

Riojas emailed Muñoz Nov. 13 to find out why Castillo’s Texas Government classes were not on WebAdvisor. She received an email reply from government professor and department chair Catherine Bottrell-Tomerlin that said Castillo had five classes listed on the spring schedule and many Texas Government sections.

“I wanted to take Castillo’s class specifically,” said Riojas, who ended up registering for a Texas Government section with a nameless instructor on Nov. 14. “The next day, the section was canceled. I believe he’s [Castillo] being retaliated against.”

Castillo currently has two distance learning Federal Government courses, which are already full, and two Federal Government courses this spring.

Francesca Darling was one of the students who complained against Castillo in October. She said she was upset with the way he taught his class at first. But after she complained, she said she realized he was a great instructor. She retracted her complaint and attended the meeting to support him.

“When I complained to Muñoz and Bottrell[-Tomerlin], they wanted to know everything. They were eager,” Darling said.

She said she was never formally told to resolve her issues with Castillo, and when she went back to tell them she no longer wanted to pursue her complaint, she was met with resistance.

“She [Bottrell-Tomerlin] was negative toward Castillo,” Darling said. “It was almost as if she didn’t like him.”

Muñoz and Bottrell-Tomerlin both declined to comment.

Darling said Coan told her the complaint would not be used.

“But it doesn’t feel like it,” she said.

Riojas started a Facebook page, “Freedom is Academic,” to rally student support for Castillo. She and other students also began an email campaign to get the word out to current and former students that Castillo’s job might be in jeopardy.

Riojas mentioned former SE instructor Paul Derengowski, a world religions teacher who resigned last year after students complained of his teaching methods.

“We didn’t want this to happen to Castillo,” Riojas said.

After retracting her complaint, Darling and about 30 other students decided in October to go to Coppola’s office to vouch for Castillo.

“He refused my meeting. I felt like he was blowing us off,” she said. “I know he’s a busy person, but when 30 people show up at your door, you don’t blow them off.”

Riojas decided to take the matter to Chancellor Erma Johnson Hadley. On Nov. 13, they were told they could meet with Coppola.

SE student Alec Brantley, who worked with Riojas and Darling to rally email support, was also at the meeting.

“Students feel misrepresented,” Brantley said. “I have over 100 emails supporting Castillo. Why pull something students are willing to pay to take?”

When the meeting was over, several students said they did not feel like Coppola was genuinely interested in their concerns. Many said they felt like he came to the meeting because he was forced to be there by the chancellor and that he didn’t accept what they were saying about Castillo.

“All I know is that I better get an email response [from Coppola] or [Castillo’s] classes better show up in WebAdvisor by next Monday because I’ll take it back to the chancellor,” Darling said.

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