Rhee Says Teachers Molested DC School Kids

6:49 PM, Jan 24, 2010   |    comments
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WASHINGTON, DC (WUSA) -- DC Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee is being asked to apologize for remarks she made in a national magazine, alleging that child molesters are among the more than 260 teachers she fired for what she described as budget reasons last fall.

Rhee is quoted by Fast Company Magazine as saying "I got rid of teachers who had hit children, who had sex with children, who had missed 78 days of school. Why wouldn't we take those things into consideration?"

In a series of hearings before City Council, Rhee blamed budget pressures for the dismissals and made no mention of abuse or molestation.

"It's a dangerous and reckless statement for the Chancellor to make because this could harm the reputation of a lot of hard-working, innocent teachers who simply got caught up in a RIFF (Reduction in Force)," said teachers union chief George Parker.

"It's just unfair and it's untrue. I think she owes those members (of the union) an apology," Parker told 9NEWS NOW producer Elizabeth Jia.

City Council Chairman Vincent Gray presided over those contentious hearings about the teacher lay-offs last fall, and was caught by surprise by Rhee's magazine interview.

"I think this needs to be addressed immediately. The names of those people, they should be turned over to police and they should be prosecuted, if, in fact, there are such people," Gray said.

"Ms. Rhee should explain why she said what she said. We deserve an explanation, because it certainly maligns teachers," Gray said.

A spokeswoman for the US Attorney's Office in DC said she had no information about any fired teacher being prosecuted for molestation or abuse.

Among the teachers who feel tainted by Rhee's remarks is Crystal Proctor of Northeast Washington. She taught social studies for 10 years before losing her job in the lay-offs last fall. Although no one had even hinted she abused children, she worries about the implication of Rhee's words and what it will mean to her on-going job search.

"Yuh, I'm tainted. I'm one of those riffed teachers and now I'm one of those riffed teachers that might be a molester, or I beat kids, or I never come to work," said Proctor. "She (Rhee) started by saying these were incompetent teachers and then she said no, it's a budget crisis and now we're back to being not just incompetent but we're child molesters and we beat kids. Anger is an understatement. I'm angry that we're back in this situation."

9NEWS NOW asked Rhee's office for a response and was told the staff was working on a statement that has yet to be released.

Requests for an interview with DC Mayor Adrian Fenty, who appointed Rhee, received no response.

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