"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Monday, January 25, 2010

To Whom Has Michelle Rhee Lied?

Last summer Rhee told DC Council that economic necessity was behind the firing of 266 experienced teachers and other school personnel. Now she is telling the media that the fired teachers were miscreants, abusers, and/or child molesters. If they were child molesters or abusers, why have no police reports been filed? If they were not child molesters, why is Rhee lying to the media and slandering the 266 fired DC teachers? Is she desperate to shift the focus from her own role of damage controller for her beloved, Kevin Johnson, who stands accused by the Inspector General of Americorps of sexual misconduct with students of his St. Hope School in Sacramento?

Video from ABC News7:

Bill Turque's story today from WaPo:

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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