Amber Alchalabi's 'Bachelor' fracas ends with principal's resignation
By Christopher Rocchio and Steve Rogers, 05/03/2007
A Texas elementary school principal has reportedly opted to resign after she was reassigned and demoted as punishment for her decision to allow The Bachelor: Officer and a Gentleman suitor and fourth-grade teacher Amber Alchalabi a 22-school day absence to compete on the ABC reality show.
Earlier this week, the Fort Bend Independent School District reviewed the matter involving Colony Bend Elementary School principal Tammie Carpenter, and spokeswoman Mary Ann Simpson told the Houston Chronicle Tuesday that "appropriate disciplinary action" was taken after Carpenter allowed Alchalabi, a 23-year-old Sugar Land, TX resident, to miss more than four weeks of classes to appear as a contestant on The Bachelor's currently airing tenth installment.
Carpenter was reassigned to another school and demoted to the role of assistant principal for not seeking approval of Alchalabi's absence from her own supervisor before letting the fourth-grade teacher take-off "an extended period of time," Simpson told the Chronicle.
"She approved it, she was aware of it, she knew about it and the principal's supervisor was not made aware that this teacher was out for 22 consecutive days," Simpson told the Chronicle Thursday, adding district officials would have denied Alchalabi's request.
However rather than accept the reassignment and demotion, Carpenter instead decided to leave her current position altogether effective June 29, the Chronicle reported.
"[Carpenter] has been nothing but a consummate professional and an incredible mentor," wrote Alchalabi in an email to the Chronicle. "It is truly unfortunate that this would happen to someone who had nothing but good intention."
Prior to embarking on her journey to find love, Alchalabi explained in a letter she sent to students' homes that she would be "absent for a week or more," the Chroniclereported last month. However she ended up missing a total of 22 school days (with only 10 of them unpaid) -- a move that upset several parents when the discovered that, rather than using the time to "care for a sick aunt" like she'd originally told them, she'd secretly used the time to compete on The Bachelor. In addition, parents were also upset that not only were Alchalabi's students in the middle of studying for the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) test when she left (and actually took their writing TAKS test while she was away), but the show also filmed some scenes (presumably relating to Alchalabi's "hometown date" with The Bachelor star Andy Baldwin) at the school upon her return.
Amber Alchalabi dances with The Bachelor: Officer and a Gentleman star Andy Baldwin during the ABC reality show's initial cocktail reception (Photo credit ABC/Adam Larkey)
"[The Bachelor] does not promote family values, moral values or appreciation of the normal 'dating' process. To exploit the children during the filming of this show is unacceptable," fourth-grade parent Lesley White said in a letter to district officials, explaining the reasoning behind why some parents believe that -- even though the school officials reportedly insisted that any child that was filmed had to have a release signed by their parents -- The Bachelor's school filming was inappropriate, according to the Chronicle. Fort Bend Independent School District has reportedly yet to take action against the teacher/bachelorette.
Colony Bend's PTO president Laura Winters described the reasoning behind Carpenter's reassignment, demotion and subsequent resignation as "bogus," according to the Chronicle, and added she has received "numerous phone calls" from other parents who support Carpenter and are "angry" at the school district's decision.
"We are upset. This is a victimless crime," Winters told the Chronicle, adding parents are planning to protest the decision. "We are writing the school board. We are writing the superintendent. We are letting them know we don't like it. They need to put her back in [Colony Bend]. That school has thrived under her." The district has received "at least two dozen messages" in the past two weeks supporting both Carpenter and Alchalabi, according to the Chronicle.
"This principal is a great principal. The school is doing very well," Karam Abuhamdam, who has two children at Colony Bend, told the Chronicle. "She has done great work at Colony Bend. All the children love her. She is very close to everybody and she knows all the children by name." Added fellow parent Eva Lozano, "I have known Ms. Alchalabi and Ms. Carpenter from direct interaction, involvement in school activities, feedback from my children and the teachers. They have served in their jobs with distinction, professionalism, and dedication."
Alchalabi remains as one of the four final suitors vying for the affection of Baldwin, a 30-year-old U.S. Navy Lieutenant and undersea medical officer stationed in Pearl Harbor, HI. During the most recent episode of The Bachelor: Officer and a Gentleman, Alchalabi, Baldwin and several other bachelorettes participated in a community-service project where they revitalized a Los Angeles playground for kindergartners. Baldwin referred to Alchalabi as "teacher Amber," and added he felt she was the "most in her element" during the project.
On the Monday, May 7 episode of Officer and a Gentleman on ABC beginning at 9:30PM ET/PT, Baldwin will make his four traditional The Bachelor hometown visits, during which a visit to Alchalabi's Colony Bend class will apparently on his itinerary.