- Sonja Isger Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
The state has permanently revoked the teaching certificate of a girls basketball coach who was fired from Santaluces High in 2015 for sending a 17-year-old student an electronic message that read in part that he wanted to see her naked, according to state and school district records.
While investigators confirmed Garrick Black sent the message, they found no evidence of anything criminal – there were no allegations of physical contact, no allegations of explicit photos being exchanged.
Black said Friday that the accusations were false, “I understand what the police report says. But I just got caught up in something. I was really nervous and scared (when police questioned him). I didn’t have anything to do with that. I didn’t even write that.”
After he lost his job, Black, who said he hasn’t worked in a school since, contends he didn’t realize that the police findings would be used to pursue his teaching certification and that he missed the notifications that were mailed to him. For those reasons, Black said he hasn’t had an opportunity to defend himself against these allegations.
Black, a basketball player at Boynton Beach High almost a decade earlier, had been coaching at Santaluces for a couple of years, but his position was considered part-time or temporary. He did not teach any classes, Palm Beach County School District records show.
When first confronted by investigators about the message sent via Instagram, Black, who is now 28, denied knowing the girl and sending the message, police reported. But Instagram confirmed the source of the message was his account, authorities had a screenshot of the message and Black eventually conceded to sending it, they reported.
It was a friend of the girl’s who alerted an assistant principal to the message and triggered the investigation. The girl, whose name was removed from the report because of her age, said the coach began following her Instagram account in the spring of 2014.
She told police that Black had sent her direct messages through that account a couple of times, once admonishing her for fighting – she’d been suspended for fighting at the time, and another commenting on a picture she posted of a woman in a black tank “who had noticeable piercings on her breasts.” The student told police the message from Black “said something to the effect of ‘Hope is not a picture of you” because, she said he implied, “people might think you’re a freak or hoe.”
When the girl in December posted a photo of herself in shorts and a sports bra, Black messaged again, instructing her to take down the photo because it was inappropriate and made her “look grown.” She fired back that he was not her father and couldn’t tell her what to do. Later, he wrote, “It’s still in my head I want to see you naked…”
On the advice of a friend, the girl then blocked Black from her account. Months later, in March, a student tipped the assistant principal. Black was fired in June 2015.