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Arthur J Pais
Garnet Coleman is looking for ways to resolve the assault charge against him, hoping to avoid a year in a prison and keep his seat in the Texas assembly. But his victim, Harsh Kumar, superintendent of five Montessori schools in Houston, wants the congressman to be taught a strict life lesson.
"The least thing he could do is to resign," said Kumar, who was pushed around by Coleman earlier this month following an altercation over the sacking of some African- American teachers.
"Imagine, a lawmaker comes to my school and assaults me. What kind of an example is he setting for the students? We hear a lot about violence in schools, but here is a grown-up man who has misbehaved.
"The rule is, the higher you go, the harder you fall," said Kumar, bristling.
Coleman was named this year as one of the top 10 most influential politicians in the state by Texas Monthly. "It looks like he missed some of the kindergarten lessons," Kumar remarked, unimpressed.
Coleman was arrested and charged with a misdemeanour last Monday. He admitted that he had pushed Kumar during an argument about the dismissal of three teachers. Two of them taught his children.
Coleman, a Democrat and one of the most influential of African American politicians in Houston, was fingerprinted and photographed by police before being released on a $1,500 bond.
He has said several times since then that he regretted his actions, explaining that he was very tired when he went to the school, since he had just returned from an overseas trip.
"If I could redo yesterday, I would," he said at a press conference a day after the assault. "This is not the type of example I would set for my kids."
But that explanation does not wash with Kumar.
"Imagine a student coming into the classroom and assaulting others and then offering an explanation that he had had a bad night," he said. "We need accountability."
Kumar said his schools have an impeccable record and Coleman's behaviour had hurt it. "I have here students whose parents earn maybe $20,000 a year, and some students whose parents earn $200 million," he said. "But we treat all parents equally."
Texas lawmaker arrested for beating up school owner
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