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

Classes in session amid complaint controversy

Darrell Castillo
Darrell Castillo

By Karen Gavis/editor-in-chief

A group of students who lobbied last semester to regain a SE government instructor’s classes has met with success.

The case has prompted a state representative to say legislation may be written to alter the current process for handling student complaints.

About 30 students became concerned they could not take classes from Darrell Castillo and that the instructor might lose his job after two students filed complaints against him with the college. One of the complaints was later retracted, and students can take Castillo’s government classes this semester, SE student Dalia Riojas said.

The group’s request for a meeting with SE president William Coppola was initially rebuffed, but students did not give up and flooded the inboxes of several TCC administrators with emails. Led by Riojas, the students also formed the Facebook page Freedom is Academic, where students voiced their support while Riojas, who had retracted her complaint against Castillo, posted information and progress updates.

Although Coppola did meet with and listen to students’ supporting comments Nov. 20, he did not answer questions regarding Castillo. Dissatisfied, Riojas contacted Chancellor Erma Johnson Hadley and secured a follow-up meeting Dec. 7.

Riojas said the chancellor was polite but said she felt like the situation had been blown out of proportion. And if inappropriate comments were being made in the classroom, those could be construed as hostile and needed to be addressed.

“When I went there, I had the expectation of more support for Mr. Castillo,” Riojas said.

During their meeting, Riojas said Hadley mentioned receiving a phone call from state Rep. Bill Zedler, a Republican who represents southern Tarrant County, who questioned whether Castillo was being singled out as a Republican.

Riojas said Hadley thought the idea of Castillo being discriminated against for his political views was preposterous and said it would be no different if he were a Democrat. At the time, Hadley was waiting on a report from Coppola and said she was not stepping in.

Zedler said one of the complaints against Castillo accused him of being racist.

“We hear this in politics all the time,” he said. “One of the worst things they can call you is, ‘Well, you’re a racist.’”

Zedler said although Castillo was labeled racist, Castillo has not seen a written statement of what he allegedly said. When Zedler asked what Castillo allegedly said, “all of a sudden nobody knew what the statement was,” Zedler said.

If students are going to make complaints, Zedler said they need to also put them in writing, and professors need to see a copy of it.

“We’re looking at possibly filing legislation to deal with this,” he said. “You need to have due process.”

Hadley was unaware that anyone was considering writing legislation but said it could be that one person’s view of a particular level of due process may differ from another person’s.

“We believe the system we have set up provides due process,” she said.

Hadley said Castillo has filed a complaint against the college. However, she could not comment on the matter because it is a personnel issue that is being investigated.

Although Castillo would not comment about the situation, he did mention a situation regarding a stuffed dog named Darrell II.

Darrell II was a gift from Castillo to his girlfriend and is also the instructor’s alter ego. The pooch was previously used as a prop in Castillo’s government classes. For instance, he once had him riding in a car wearing a seatbelt and insured to comply with state legislation.

However, faculty who saw Castillo walk down the hallway carrying Darrell II, thought he was being unprofessional and complained, Castillo said. Humanities divisional dean Josue Muñoz later informed Castillo the pooch was no longer welcome on SE.

“He wanted to put me on a PIP [personal improvement plan] just for him,” Castillo said.

Muñoz referred questions regarding Castillo to Coppola.

Coppola was unavailable for comment.

Meanwhile, when Freedom is Academic posted on Facebook that Castillo would be teaching Texas government this semester, SE student Desiree Arrey replied, “It’s about bloody time!”

 

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