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Shaw students react to arrests in Betts slaying

UPDATE, 9:49 a.m.: Third suspect charged with murder

Principal Brian Betts walks with one of his students in 2008. (Bill O'Leary/Post)
Students at Shaw Middle School said Tuesday that they were glad suspects in their beloved principal Brian Betts' murder had been arrested, and that the revelations about his meeting the suspects on a phone-sex chat line didn't change their opinion of him as an educator.

Students gathered at the entrance of the school on a quiet, sunny morning, before heading inside for DC-CAS testing. Teachers planned to talk to students about the arrests after the exams.

"He never did nothing to nobody," said Saprena Butler, one of about 100 ninth-graders who liked Shaw Middle School so much that they successfully petitioned Betts and Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee to let them spend an extra year there. "He was the best, out of all the teachers I've ever had" - and the apparent circumstances of the murder don't change that, she said.

"I just thought about it a little bit, but I put it out of my head," she said.

Tuesday is the final day of DC-CAS testing, the annual standardized exams that help measure academic progress of D.C. public school students. The tests were rescheduled after Betts was found dead at his Silver Spring home on April 15.

Kim Douglas, acting principal at Shaw, said teachers would discuss the arrests and the apparent circumstances of the murder in their classrooms. Holding a school-wide assembly would be too disruptive, she said, and probably wouldn't be too helpful anyway.

"We're going to have teachers handle it in class, but they'll all be reading off the same sheet of music," Douglas said. She said that the school has calmed since the initial shock of the loss.

"Brian was an awesome principal," Douglas said. The details of his final night have nothing to do with that, she said. "It's not like it's going to change anything."

STORY: Betts met suspects on sex line, police say

PHOTOS: Students, colleagues mourn death

TIMELINE: The Brian Betts case

--Michael Birnbaum

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By Washington Post Editors  |  May 4, 2010; 9:48 AM ET
 | Tags: Brian Betts, Shaw Middle School  
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Next: Council speaks, but Rhee has spoken


We're all have flaws, temptations, and make lifelong mistakes. If you genuinely care about someone, something as trivial as this shouldn't make you stop caring for someone. Seems like he just wanted a little intimacy and connection. Bars, clubs, phone chat difference

Posted by: mmurphy6 | May 4, 2010 11:05 AM | Report abuse

The details of his final night change everything.

If he liked men that young, then he should have been teaching college.

Posted by: blasmaic | May 4, 2010 11:05 AM | Report abuse

These students seem to be far more mature and sophisticated than other posters elsewhere on this site. They are right, what he did in his personal life should have no bearing on his success and dedication as an educator. As far as I can tell from the news, the perpetrators were young but they were not under age. Let's not equate homosexuality with pedophilia please! Besides, the person with whom Betts spoke on the chat line may have told him he was far older. These guys weren't on the line for companionship, they were there to rob someone so they said what they needed to in order to do the job.

Posted by: UrbanDweller | May 4, 2010 12:15 PM | Report abuse

"Blasmaic" you really think these 18 year olds went on the chat line as 18 year olds? My guess is that 99% of the time people disguise their age, race, blah blah blah on these social networking sites to hide their true identity. For all we know he could have thought he was corresponding with a 50 year old Italian guy... I seriously doubt he thought he was chatting with a young black male. So you saying that "if he liked men that young"... is just an ignorant comment.

Posted by: uranidiot | May 4, 2010 3:11 PM | Report abuse

I hope the school has people with therapeutic backgrounds talk through this with the kids. I think they are the ones who will really be able to help the kids would through their feelings in this extremely painful situation.

Posted by: aby1 | May 4, 2010 5:06 PM | Report abuse

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