April 10, 2013 | LXXIII, No. 2

Border patrol arrests teacher at LRHS

The Spanish teacher at Lake Roosevelt High School, Guillermo Guzman, was arrested Thursday by U.S. Border Patrol agents and Coulee Dam Police on a number of federal charges, and is currently in Okanogan County Jail.  

Scott Hunter
Guillermo Guzman gestures toward a lesson on a whiteboard in his Spanish language classroom at Lake Roosevelt High School.

Among a list of charges that Police Chief Pat Collins said was expanding: Guzman had used someone else’s Social Security number, wasn’t a citizen, and didn’t have a valid work permit.

The arrest was made late afternoon Thursday, and came about after the person whose Social Security number he was using had tried to file for benefits but was told he couldn’t do so because he was still working. That’s when the victim called Coulee Dam police.

Guzman has a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree from the University of Washington, had taught on the west side of the state and has been at Lake Roosevelt High School since 2008.

Grand Coulee Dam School District Superintendent Dennis Carlson said Guzman had passed the Washington State Patrol background test and the Federal Bureau of Investigation fingerprint test.

Guzman is from Mexico.

Reader Comments

(2)

Alan Wood writes:

I have known Guillermo for many years, ever since he was a student of mine at the University of Washington. So I am very, very surprised to read this story. There must be some gigantic misunderstanding. Guillermo was not only a brilliant student in all my classes, but he is one of the most wonderful, compassionate, thoughtful, and dedicated students I have had in thirty years of teaching. His own personal story of overcoming hardships and challenges growing up, and then his passionate commitment to education, has been an inspiration to all his friends and acquaintances as well--and even to his former teachers! His goal was always to give back to his own students the joy of learning that he had discovered in school, and in order to do that he went on to get a Masters degree in education so he could teach high school. I have actually Skyped with one of his classes just a few months ago (while I was still in Seattle), and enjoyed every minute of the conversation with his students. I earnestly hope that this misunderstanding can be cleared up as soon as possible so Guillermo can be back in the classroom where he belongs! Alan Wood Professor, History University of Washington Bothell

Daryl Rodrigues writes:

Media has a duty to distinguish fact from opinion and to report both sides of a story without bias. Because reputations and lives can be destroyed long before facts are known we rely on the media to equalize the power imbalance between the government and individual by checking every “fact” before reporting it as such. We rely on the media to model the important American principal that all people are presumed innocent until proven guilty. Your article on Mr. Guzman’s arrest does none of the above. You state “Among a list of charges that Police Chief Pat Collins said was expanding” and you fail to list any charges at all. Instead you state; as if already proven: “Guzman had used someone else’s Social Security number, wasn’t a citizen, and didn’t have a valid work permit.” Did you attempt to access the charging documents, review probable cause or attempt to reach Mr. Guzman for comment? Mr. Guzman was always available to students, offered free Spanish instruction to parents to help students succeed. He lived a humble lifestyle to send money to his elderly mother. Most importantly, although he has been accused of crimes he is guilty of none of them until such time as each element of each crime has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt. It appears the arrest has disrupted if not destroyed his life and your article has taken care of destroying his reputation before the man set foot in court let alone had his day there.