Rhee mum on teacher sex flap
Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee passed on multiple chances Friday to explain her remark that some of the 266 DCPS teachers laid off last October had hit children or had sex with them. The quote appears in the February issue of Fast Company magazine.
In a brief item, Rhee addressed the union charge that she contrived the budget crunch to circumvent seniority rules and rid the system of older teachers.
"I got rid of teachers who had hit children, who had had sex with children, who had missed 78 days of school. Why wouldn't we take those things into consideration?" she said.
The only official word came from Mayor Adrian M. Fenty's spokeswoman, Mafara Hobson, who said (brace yourselves):
"The mayor cannot comment on personnel matters."
D.C. police also had nothing definitive to say. "We are still researching it and I cannot comment at this time," said spokeswoman Gwendolyn Crump.
The pushback from teachers, however, was immediate and angry. WTU president George Parker said the union is usually notified whenever a teacher faces disciplinary action, and that, as far as he knew, none of the 266 had ever faced investigation for sexual activity with children. He said he knew of at least one of the 266 who had faced charges for corporal punishment
"This paints all teachers as being a group of child molesters who assault children and don't come to work," Parker said. "It damages the reputation of a lot of innocent, hardworking, dedicated teachers."
General vice president Nathan Saunders -- like Parker a candidate for union presidency in this spring's election--also expressed outrage.
"The statements are not only an affront to every single teacher that was riffed [laid off], but every single teacher currently employed in D.C. public schools," Saunders said. "It's irresponsible and she needs to be taken to task for it."
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