In an interview with Fast Company magazine, Rhee said:
After the October layoffs of 266 teachers and staff, the union claimed Rhee used a budget crunch as a pretext for dismissing veteran teachers, since seniority rules don't cover cuts for fiscal reasons. "I got rid of teachers who had hit children, who had had sex with children, who had missed 78 days of school," Rhee says. "Why wouldn't we take those things into consideration?"
Her comments naturally raised the ire of DC parents who want to know why she used a reduction in force issue to terminate teachers who hit children or sexually molested them.
Rhee now says, in an attempt to clarify her comments:
"Student safety is our highest concern," Rhee wrote in the letter, "and we have thousands of teachers, principals and staff members who share that commitment and treat our students with great care and respect every day." She added that the examples she cited in the February issue of "Fast Company" magazine "involved a very small minority of the teachers who were terminated in the budget reduction."
Even if it is a "very small minority" questions still remain as to how those cases were handled; were they reported to the police as required by law? Echos of Kevin Jennings, anyone?
D. C. Council Chairman Vincent Gray wants to know. He's given Rhee a Wednesday deadline to prove how those cases were handled.
Rhee, you may remember, is the fiancee of Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson who has been involved in his own brouhaha with the AmeriCorps scandal. Inspector General Gerald Walpin was terminated by the Obama administration because he questioned a settlement made with Johnson over misuse of AmeriCorps funds.
Rhee, for her part, has refused to apologize for her careless remarks about the terminated D.C. teachers which has prompted the Teachers' Union to offer this response:
"In one blanket, accusatory statement, you have potentially damaged the reputations of 266 teachers in a way that disregards fairness and deprives them of an opportunity to defend themselves," he said in a letter sent Monday.
"Furthermore, your statement has created a public uproar and raises uncertainties about the integrity of all DCPS teachers -- not just those who were" laid off.
I'd agree that an apology is in order. Her response? That she basically didn't mean ALL the teachers terminated could be characterized that way and she had made that clear already. Apparently we were too dense to get that.
The old "smarter than you" defense.