New York Can’t Fire “Heroin Teacher”

What does it take to fire a teacher in New York State? Apparently it takes a whole heckuva lot these days, whether it’s the unions saving the paychecks of bad teachers or the school’s own ridiculous rules or regulations. Now another branch of the “public” trust is putting our children at risk by protecting bad teachers from being removed from school room. New York’s famously named “heroin teacher” is being restored to his position due to the illogical reasoning of a state judge.

Here’s a little background on the teacher:

“The teacher, Damian Esteban, was arrested while serving jury duty last year when cops discovered 20 glassine envelopes of heroin hidden in a bulging pack of cigarettes, according to the city’s Law Department. Mr. Esteban claimed he was unaware the drugs were in his backpack and, according to the city, the charges were dismissed after he agreed to attend a treatment program.”

An arbiter ruled earlier this year that Mr. Esteban should be fired from his position as a teacher in the public school system. However, a State Supreme Court judge decided to overrule the decision, saying that the firing was ”unduly harsh” and that it was “shocking to this court’s sense of fairness.”

As someone who observes the local and national news as well as the current events of the day, you might think I am no longer surprised at the incredible stupidity of some of the people to whom we give leadership roles. You’d be wrong. When I first heard the news of what had happened in this foolish judge’s New York court, I was blown away.

heroin-teacherThe city leaders are justifiably upset. They, like many of us, are unable to understand how the judge could believe that a man who walks into a courtroom with 20 bags of heroin in his bag could possibly be qualified (legally or morally) to teach in a high school classroom. The leaders have promised to appeal the ruling, but for now Mr. Esteban remains employed by the city school system.

It’s almost impossible to imagine what could have been happening within the mind of the judge as he was making his decision. Across the country, teachers can be fired for much smaller offenses by using the “morality clause” that most school districts write in to their contracts. As a society we have long held to the idea that our teachers should be kept to a higher moral standard, specifically because they are responsible with the most precious parts of our lives – our children.

Additionally, what does it say about Mr. Esteban that he was carrying 20 small baggies of heroin? Could that much heroin have been for his own personal use? If so, why would he carry all of it at once? The inevitable conclusion is that Mr. Esteban was, or is, a drug dealer.

That is the man this callous judge has sent back before these students. That is the man who has been charged to care for your children. What is happening, America?

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by

About the author

Onan Coca

Onan is the Editor-in-Chief at Romulus Marketing and Bravera Holdings. He's also the managing editor at,, and the managing partner at You can read more of his writing at Eagle Rising.
Onan is a graduate of Liberty University (2003) and earned his M.Ed. at Western Governors University in 2012. Onan lives in Atlanta with his wife and their five wonderful children.

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