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Council Members Want Rhee To Justify Controversial Remarks

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D.C. Council Member Marion Barry wants to hold a hearing into Chancellor Michelle Rhee's controversial comments.
Kavitha Cardoza
D.C. Council Member Marion Barry wants to hold a hearing into Chancellor Michelle Rhee's controversial comments.

By Kavitha Cardoza

D.C. Public School's Chancellor Michelle Rhee has offered an explanation to the city council about why she told a national magazine that some of the teachers laid off last year had hit children, had sex with children, or were often absent. But some council members say they're not satisfied.

Rhee offered her explanation in a letter to council members. She wrote that her comments actually referred to just a few teachers. Only one of them was alleged to have had sex with a student, and police are investigating. Six of the 266 teachers and staff laid off had been suspended for corporal punishment, and several had what she called egregious attendance records. Rhee said they represented "a very small minority of teachers," who were terminated in the layoffs because of a budget reduction. She said that under the union agreement she couldn't fire the teachers outright.

The layoffs offered her an opportunity to get rid of them.

For their part council members say there are other ways to get rid of such teachers.

Marion Barry called this a "pattern of disrespect."

"This is the latest incident where she has spoken disrespectfully and lied about the nature of the firings," says Barry.

Council members want to know whether proper procedures were followed and why Rhee didn't raise these issues during hearings on the layoffs.

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