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Despite Controversy, Rhee Says Teacher's Contract Will Go Forward

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By Patrick Madden

D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee is facing new criticism after disclosing that 266 teachers were fired last year because of a budget miscalculation. Rhee now says the school system has a surplus of money, which she wants to use for pay for the tentative teachers contract.

But the revelation may have damaged her reputation with the two groups she needs to sign off on the deal: D.C. council members and the teachers union members.

Following Rhee's announcement, Council Chair Vincent Gray announced there would be a council investigation into the matter.

"It's very troubling and it should be troubling to everybody who is connected to education in the District of Columbia," says Gray.

Washington Teachers Union president George Parker said he had no idea about the surplus. Later in the day, announced the union would take the school system to court if it did not rehire the fired teachers. He did not address what it could mean for the new labor agreement.

None of this bodes well for Rhee, who needs council members and union members to approve the deal. Despite the setback, Rhee says the proposed contract will go forward.

"I think we need to lay out how this happened, but I don't think it should derail this at all," says Rhee.

Rhee says she will not re-hire the laid off teachers, likely setting her on a collision course with the city council and the union.

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