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Gray: Rhee needs to name names

D.C. Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray called on Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee Monday to provide the names of teachers who sexually assaulted or hit children before they were laid off in the October budget cuts. Failure to do so, he said, unfairly taints all 266 teachers who were dismissed.

"The names of the people who did this need to be made public in deference to the others who had absolutely nothing to do with this," Gray told WTOP's Mark Segraves
Gray's demand was part of the rapidly mounting pressure for Rhee to explain remarks attributed to her in the February Fast Company magazine. She said that some of the 266 teachers laid off in October budget cuts had sex with students, hit them or were persistently absent without authorization.

Gray said he would be sending written questions today to Rhee, Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier and D.C. Child and Family Services Agency director Roque Gerald. Depending on their response, Gray said, he would decide whether to hold hearings on the matter.

Once again, I sent my own questions to Chancellor Rhee this morning.

"We'll get back to you," spokeswoman Jennifer Calloway replied.

Shortly before going on the air, Gray said he was stunned by Rhee's disclosure about sexual assaults, because she mentioned nothing about it in the October hearing on teacher layoffs, or in the course of a one-hour meeting he had with her last week.

"Educators are mandatory reporters of incidents like this," Gray said. "What she needs to do is very quickly corroborate this." If there is proof, it raises another question, he said: "Why was an alleged budget problem used as a basis for dismissing people who, according to her, engaged in abuse and sexual molestation of children?"

Gray was joined in his demand by Council member Kwame R. Brown (D-At Large), who said he was "outraged" by Rhee's comments. "I want to know who these teachers are," Brown said in a phone interview.

When Segraves suggested that the legal barriers to a government agency releasing such names were enormous, Gray invoked the last week's announcement from Sidwell Friends that it had fired a long-time social studies teacher, Robert A. "Pete" Peterson.

But Gray, a possible mayoral candidate, was either misinformed or being disingenuous when he asked why DCPS hadn't proceeded like Sidwell Friends. Peterson, he said, "was immediately dealt with and I don't understand why it wasn't done in this situation."

In fact, Peterson had been on leave since the beginning of the school year, and was terminated only after Montgomery and Queen Anne's county authorities charged him with sexual abuse of a minor and other sex offenses.

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By Bill Turque  |  January 25, 2010; 12:48 PM ET
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Posted by: wind01 | January 25, 2010 1:28 PM | Report abuse

Gray is bandstanding for political gain. I know of parents who claim to have sent emails to the council about such teachers in 2006, 2007, 2008. I wouldn't believe one single word that Gray is stating on this issue and thankfully the Washington Post took him to task on the Sidwell Friends comparison.

Posted by: bbcrock | January 25, 2010 1:28 PM | Report abuse

@ bbcrock "Bandstanding"? What? Seriously, if you think that 'grandstanding' to ensure that the kids in DCPS and surrounding counties where these fired teachers will go teach is out of line, then I ask you what an appropriate response would be? Just move the pedophiles to another district? Either a crime was comitted here or somebody is lying. Either way, Councilman Gray is right to ask questions.

Posted by: Paolo01 | January 25, 2010 1:37 PM | Report abuse

Gray is not grandstanding at all. I would expect the Mayor to demand that there be a full investigation into this story. If it is true there are so many questions. 1. When did it happen? 2. Who was it reported to? 3. Were parents notified? 4. What actions were taken before the teachers were finally fired? Chancellor Rhee and the school system are required by law to report such incidents to authorities and the public needs to know if they did.

If these incidents happened and people were charged and convicted, not just accused, which can happen all the time- then they should have been fired. If not the statements can be considered slanderous.

Posted by: peterdc | January 25, 2010 1:40 PM | Report abuse

Whether or not these allegations are true, Rhee once again has failed to do the job she was hired to do while at the same time damaging reputations. If these allegations are correct, then they should have been treated as a criminal matter and the guilty parties charged, given due process and then terminated if evidence was found to be true. Instead she conconcted a lie about the budget in an effort to circumvent policies to protect employees against an out-of-control dictator passing herself off as a professional educator. Even the Mayor's office should be embarrassed by her latest stunt.

Posted by: Frustratededucator | January 25, 2010 1:43 PM | Report abuse

Regardless of the truth of Rhee's allegations, it is now clear that she must be terminated. If her statement is true, she has proven herself to be grossly incompetent and ignorant of the law. She and her staff are MANDATORY REPORTERS of child abuse. As such, failure to report is a criminal offense and she should be held accountable. Termination is the first step; prosecution is the second. If her statement is untrue or can not be verified she must be terminated. If her statement is false or can not be verified she and the District of Columbia will be parties to multiple lawsuits. If she is fired now, that might mitigate damages.

Posted by: rjchittamssr | January 25, 2010 1:48 PM | Report abuse

Even though Vincent Gray was mistaken about the facts related to the teacher at Sidwell, there is still the question of whether or not teachers accused of abuse or molestation were reported to Child and Family Services or the police as required by law. The law does not state that city council members need to be notified, but if they were I would hope that they directed the parent(s) to contact the police or CFS. These are very serious accusations made by someone, Ms. Rhee, who stated that she has records to substantiate the the accusations. Names do not need to be released to the public unless and until charges have been filed. What we as parents need to see is corroboration from MPD or CFS that the incident(s) were reported immediately and handled appropriately. That is a first step because it still does not explain why someone would be fired based on an accusation, rather than after being found guilty of a crime. Accused --> removed from contact with children. Convicted --> fired.

Posted by: Concerned_Citizen2 | January 25, 2010 1:48 PM | Report abuse

Has Gray talked to Rhee face to face about her remarks?

Posted by: resc | January 25, 2010 2:01 PM | Report abuse

Mayor Fenty where are you??? It appears Ms. Rehee did not address the issue of sexual and physical abuse in our schools. I don't want anyone to lose their job. However, this is gross misconduct on her part and you should ask for her resignation, or severely discipline her.

I personally do not have any school age children. However, almost everyone I know who does are sending their children to charter schools and the DCPS wonders why.

Posted by: sickofu | January 25, 2010 2:07 PM | Report abuse

To resc

A face to facing meeting with Rhee is a JOKE.

Which face? The face engaged to marry someone who was investigated for child abuse against young children. The one that claims she cares more about our children than their parents. The face that never hides from cameras but ducked behind her door and USED HER CHILDREN AS AN EXCUSE NOT TO TALK TO REPORTERS regarding her crazy statements in the magazine.

By the way, some of the 266 RIFFED TEACHERS HAVE CHILDREN, FAMILY AND FRIENDS who will be affected by MADAM BIG MOUTH.

Finally, if Gray is grandstanding so be it. What has Fenty, the group Federal City Council, the Washington Post and the Rhee worshippers been doing since her arrival in town.

I can't wait to see Jay Matthews spin on this one.

PS – Cannot wait to Rhee’s ex-husband article of this one. Who at the POST is penning this story?

Posted by: dccounselor72 | January 25, 2010 2:21 PM | Report abuse

DCPS teachers having sex with students, why am I not surprised? I suppose that "teaching" would be viewed as a great gig for a depraved pedophile. Easy access to children, especially those vulnerable ones from broken homes.

Posted by: jabreal00 | January 25, 2010 3:10 PM | Report abuse

bb crock typed:
I wouldn't believe one single word that Gray is stating on this issue

From the article:
"Educators are mandatory reporters of incidents like this," Gray said.

So, bb, educators do not need to report child abuse????
Gray is wrong to state otherwise???????

Posted by: phillipmarlowe | January 25, 2010 3:28 PM | Report abuse

The damage is already done. None of the 266 will ever find work as educators again. Rhee has destroyed the savings accomplished through layoffs because those severed will now be suing for additional lost wages.

Posted by: blasmaic | January 25, 2010 3:44 PM | Report abuse

Either way, Rhee hurt herself. If the allegations are true and you did not report them to the Police - you dropped the ball. If they aren't true then why did you say that? You can't damage reputations like that, and why was that never brought up when you were asked why the sudden lay offs, you said budget cuts. Now it's sexual abuse and hitting? She's got to go, long over due.

Posted by: love2much SE | January 25, 2010 3:55 PM | Report abuse

This is such an outrageous claim, Gray should start where the information should be. The issue is whether Rhee is telling the truth. Most of us believe she lies. A RIF is a budgetary issue and not a disciplinary measure. Therefore, start with the US attorney. ( we already know that the info is not there) Get police records because that would be the first place one would go to report such action. Check CPS. If a case of abuse has been reported, the child protective services would have been notified. Check school security records. They would have been involved. All of the above named are a part of policy and procedure. If there is no record in any of those places, then wanting the names is nill. The question then becomes why have you made yet another inflamatory statement against the workforce that cannot be substantiated with any of the appropriate authorities?

If there is a record of criminal behavior, there are many other questions to be asked. How long have you known? Why did you avoid using the established disciplinary procedure that addresses such criminal behavior? Why weren't the teachers arrested? What disciplinary action was taken against the principal(s) that also obviously failed to report such actions? Were they fired for disciplinary reasons? Did you contact the parents? Exactly what did you do? Do you realize that knowing this information and failing to act immediately, responsibly and professionally further endangered children? Since there are no records did these abuses really occur?

Was your admission in an interview another act to promote yourself? What pleasure do you gain out of embarrassing this city and insulting the workforce with your continued bashing nation wide?

For one day I'd love to be councilmember Candycane1 and drill her to the wall with questions. After seeing her on Fox news with Karen Gray Houston, I get the feeling that she does not want to go in front of the council with this one and I'm sure ole Petey is working on a way to keep her from doing so.

Posted by: candycane1 | January 25, 2010 3:55 PM | Report abuse

Gray said the Sidwell teacher situation was "dealt with immediately" and in fairness, it was - he was suspended and did not return to teach in the fall. Students and parents were not given the reason, which also seems fair, until someone is formally charged, his reputation should not be questioned..

"Dealt with immediately" means being removed from the classroom immediately. That's just what happened with the Sidwell teacher and just what should have happened with any DC teacher - not instead keeping them in the classroom and waiting for a RIF to fire them and certainly not maligning them with no evidence 3 months after they've lost their jobs.

Posted by: efavorite | January 25, 2010 4:22 PM | Report abuse

Candycane -- all good questions and hopefully will be asked even if you can't channel yourself into a councilmember's body. You should send them all an email with those questions. Maybe mary Cheh would do it. She was pretty good with poor Noah Wepman.

On another subject - what houston/rhee Fox interview are you referring to. Did it happen recently?

Posted by: efavorite | January 25, 2010 4:33 PM | Report abuse

Efavorite I intend to send my questions to the council. Even if she says that these occurrances happened before her tenure, theh cases should have been pending for appropriate action.

Karen Gray Houston of fox5 went straight to her door and it appeared that she caught Rhee off guard. Of course she wouldn't talk to her. You can pull it up on my There is video.

Posted by: candycane1 | January 25, 2010 4:55 PM | Report abuse


I saw that interview. She was talking about how she was too busy because she was dealing with her kids, blah, blah, blah.

you know, the implications of Rhee's accusations may be just the trap that kills Fenty's administration.

She REALLY has to answer for this because no matter how Rhee tries to size this one up, she's guilty on several level of legal process.


Go back to her door again Fox5....ahahaha!

Posted by: cbmuzik | January 25, 2010 4:58 PM | Report abuse

Still no word, no clarification from Rhee?

There should not be another school day in session until the citizens of DC know the truth.

Any teacher accused and fired should be under investigation by legal authorities. I would think by now arrest warrants if not served, are imminent.

Did Rhee engage in a cover-up, protecting adults who sexually assaulted children?

If she is and has refused to present the names of those alleged to have committed a crime than she should be on her way to jail.

The victims are exposed and vulnerable are they being afforded medical treatment? Legal advice? Police protection?

If Rhee's statements are proven false then she should be escorted from her office posthaste.

Either way she should be on her way to jail. Any statement from this point should be coming from her attorney.

Posted by: 2belinda | January 25, 2010 5:01 PM | Report abuse

Candycane - saw that video. I doubt Rhee was off-guard. She had to notice the cameras before she got to the door. I suspect her legal team was inside and told her it was better to answer and make that excuse than to have video of the reporter banging on the door with no answer, then showing Rhee's car in the driveway and lights on in the living room.

Posted by: efavorite | January 25, 2010 5:13 PM | Report abuse

@ bbcrock- Is this A. Fenty WaPo posting name?Or, are you a emissary? Idiot? Gesture? Or do you just need some attention?

Now, let me say this. If there is any crime comitted against a child, and a third party adult is aware of the crime and do nothing, they are just as guilty as the the person who actually did.

See Sate of California v. Michael Jackson

Posted by: knjon353 | January 25, 2010 5:14 PM | Report abuse

Now did not Rhee already make a statement similar to the case. It referenced that if you would have read the files of some of the Rif'd teacher that she would not rehire them or words to that affect.

Again, if she saw claims in the personnel file of those aforementioned that attest to those issues and were seemingly brushed under the rug by her predecessors, then it becomes a one of the many criteriors to only make a mental note. As a practical matter, if the RIF'd procedures were of budgetary constraints and no one else has proven otherwise that it was not, then what is the hoopla about what she would have considered after the fact?

Hence, the courts have ruled in her favor that she followed procedures setforth in guidelines of a RIF. Do we dare not forget those words of the council...that says there are provisions for DCPS to fire teachers and they emphatically stated that Rhee uses them to her utmost degree.

So, therefore I think references was made in regards to that statement from the Council was to make sure that she will not skirt the issues like her predecessors.

For the life of me...I don't see how and when I know for fact some teachers that were adversarily dismissed...but have wonderfully secured jobs in the surrounding counties.

I guess if the Chancellor could not consider the facts of inappropriate conduct or performance in the RIF proceedings then why should a potential future employer consider those same exact damaging letters in an employee's personnel files at this point.

I know of a case where a student was hit by a teacher...police was called, witnesses was interviewed...teacher arrested and escorted out of the school in handcuffs...when it was time for the hearing the victim did not show up.

What went into the personnel file...all the facts leading up to the case...but the outcome is somewhere out there in a land-fill named Tuckson. So, the question is who's responsibility was to expunge the record?

Finally, you had two principals involved in an altercation during the same year under the same Superintendent. Now one was fired immediately and the other was allowed to keep his job... But the incident was still in his personnel record and here comes the Chancellor...again an issue arises about the principal, although she made her decision in regards not letting the principal be reappointed and let him bow out gracefully...but did she consider his previous issues that were seemingly swept under the rug...

I guess we will never know?

Until I hear how the question was poised to her...and I am not really blown out of the water by Rhee's statement.

Didn't the Washington Post retract a statement recently saying that Rhee "vowed" in fact she did not....

Again it was a slow news day, with the Redskins not in the playoffs, the snow melting and Tiger getting his stripes back...what else was it for the news media and public but to hang on Rhee's vary words?

Posted by: PowerandPride | January 25, 2010 5:43 PM | Report abuse

Ooops, now there's Channel 9, banging on the door of her house, and Sam Ford at Channel 7 standing in front of McKinley ("site of protests against the RIFs") getting expressions of disgust from parents and teachers alike. Also, Our Fearless Fenty answering "Humminuh hummminuh hummminuh" when Sam Ford asks, (a.) Was Rhee's statement false, and if it was not a false statement by Rhee, (b.) What's being done about child-molesting teachers?

Posted by: Trulee | January 25, 2010 5:45 PM | Report abuse

NBC Nightly News just reported Rhee phoned in minutes before their update on the story. She/Nickles/Fenty have already figured out how to put this one to bed. Now it's one particular teacher, whom the Council wouldn't "listen" when she tried to forge into "reasons" for firing, and now they will likely find if not a real pedophile, a fall guy/gal. All in the best interest of the children, just a verbal gaffe, scores are up, so on and so on. Unfortunately, it's taken the heat from the nearly equally huge stories of Hardy/Duke Ellington which as a whole represent a long-view diabolical plan without input of stakeholders, and will (under Nickles' direction) provide cover making her out to be more of a saviour than we could have imagined (protecting the privacy of the pedophile/fall guy/gal). The WTU should begin a petition to have her removed and circulate it via listserves such as DC Urban Mom, PTA's, etc.... This should be the smoking gun to get rid of this woman AND Fenty (who, btw, as Mayor staking is rep on education, should hv demonstrated that he can separate himself from her carte blanche by at least apologizing to the teachers of HIS city), but sadly, they'll squirm out of it unless there's a new plan by someone really powerful who knows the TRUTH.

Posted by: modern1 | January 25, 2010 6:52 PM | Report abuse

As the husband of a riffed teacher, I feel I have to voice my sincere disgust about Rhee's latest accusations related to sexual abuse and corporal punishment by the teachers she fired.

If it is judged that her remarks are false in all or in part (they are certainly not true of the majority) then someone please tell me what action will be taken to hold her responsible.

When she sat in front of the DC council in the Spring, she promised multiple times to try to dilute the hostile atmosphere. These comments demonstrate (at least to me) that she has a callous disregard for the feeling and reputations of those she removed as well as no intention of ending hostilities.

DC residents need a viable candidate for mayor with an anti-Rhee platform. I would vote for him/her in a second.

She should be deeply ashamed of herself.

Posted by: damccarey | January 25, 2010 7:21 PM | Report abuse

bbcrock, if it was my kid it would get reported to the cops.
School systems and city councils are not trained in the investigation of crimes.

Posted by: edismae | January 25, 2010 7:29 PM | Report abuse

No, it isn't even necessary to name names, all they need is confirmation from Cathy Lanier on whether, or not, they have had any reports of sexual assault by DCPS administrators regarding teachers having sexual contact with minors.

What is most concerning to me is how this administration picks and chooses when they want to 'elaborate' on why a District employee was dismissed. The usual retort is that they cannot comment on personnel matters. I guess that is the case unless you are Chancellor Rhee and you have a microphone and cameras in your face.

Gray is not grandstanding, he is rightly seeking accountability if the allegations are true and answers from Rhee if they were false, i.e. LIES.

Posted by: concernedaboutdc | January 25, 2010 7:51 PM | Report abuse

She/Nickles/Fenty have already figured out how to put this one to bed. Now it's one particular teacher, whom the Council wouldn't "listen" when she tried to forge into "reasons" for firing, and now they will likely find if not a real pedophile, a fall guy/gal.

OK, let's say we BELIEVE all of that; where is the investigastion by MPD and the results of such an investigation and then why after the investigation were parents not informed that there was an allegation of sexual abuse and the situation was investigated and findings of guilt were present and the offending individual has been terminated. She should have further stated that once again there is a zero tolerance of any action that hurts our children and no form of criminal behavior against children will be tolerated. How cowardly is it to wait until you can RIF the individual and the tax payer continue to pay for a criminal instead of terminating them through legal means and prosecuting them to the fullest extent of the law.

I am not buying anything that is being "SPUN" in this story, it still STINKS of cover-up!!!

Posted by: lacairaine | January 25, 2010 7:58 PM | Report abuse

THE TRUTH (about Rhee) WILL OUT!

Posted by: ame_hr | January 25, 2010 8:20 PM | Report abuse

I saw Tom Sherwood's report on channel 4 and indeed she says that it's only one teacher accused of sexual assault and 6 that are guilty of corporal punishment. One sexual abuser is one too many and 6 who engaged in corporal punishment is 6 too many. However, there is no excuse for this continued grandstanding, the embarrassment that not only teachers and principals feel but our students don't benefit from this at all. Of course she offers no apology. There is something really wrong there because the damage is done and it's has caused irrevocable harm.

BTW: How grand is the rumor that she is pregnant?

Posted by: candycane1 | January 25, 2010 8:39 PM | Report abuse

cbmuzik: I agree with you 100%. They should go back and ask her why it took so long to respond. "Question for anybody" The HATCH ACT: Has there been a revision of the law? If you are a government employee/ mayoral appointee can you have a campaign sign in your yard? Of course everybody breaks the law if your residence is unknown but Rhee had a Fenty sign in her yard. Is that another law she is breaking?

Posted by: candycane1 | January 25, 2010 8:50 PM | Report abuse

Anyone waiting for Roque Gerald (CFSA) or Cathy Lanier (MPD) to say anything contradicting the mayor's position on this episode of "Rheegate" will be waiting a very long time. Both were appointed by Fenty and I am certain neither of them is going to say anything to jeopardize their livelihood. This is why an independent investigation, a la the DC Council or even Attorney General Eric Holder's office is in order. (There are also federal laws mandating the reporting of child abuse, but since Nickles et al. are beholden to Fenty, other options must be pursued.)

Parents, community members, and educators must not let this firestorm be doused by spin and cover-up. We must mobilize until this collaboration, consensus-building, and cooperation averse tyrant is held to the level of accountability she espouses for her subordinates.

Posted by: schooletal | January 25, 2010 10:10 PM | Report abuse

Rhee is a liar, plain and simple. She opened her mouth and a can of worms. She knew when she told the lie about the teachers the first time that it was ONE teacher. So who is it? BY LAW SHE HAS TO NAME HIM OR HER.

Fenty sounded incoherent, just like he always does. He sounded less articulate than usual -- and that's not a compliment. Who is he requiring to complete paperwork for the oust?

November 2010 can put them out of office.

Posted by: southyrndiva | January 25, 2010 10:14 PM | Report abuse

The term she used, as reported by Tom Sherwood, was "sexual misconduct" which is a very broad term. The terminology she used in the interview with Jeff Chu, was "had sex with children" which is a lot more specific. So, please, lets be clear - what exact sexual misconduct was it?

And let's hear about the about physical abusers too. What did they do and how were those teachers dealt with before the RIF? And were they all teachers? Not all RIFd people were.

Posted by: efavorite | January 25, 2010 10:56 PM | Report abuse

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