Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee watched from the front row of the D.C. Council chamber Monday as educators fired by her administration last year demanded an apology and questioned her budget practices.
About a half dozen former public school educators wore T-shirts that read: "I am not a child molester." The message was a protest of Rhee's comments in a national magazine that some of the more than 200 educators fired last fall had sex with students.
Former school counselor Barbara Eichelberger said Rhee should apologize for the characterization and provide job references for those who were fired.
Rhee, who left the hearing after about an hour, said in an interview that she would not apologize because "that statement was in fact true." But Rhee said it was "important to clarify that not everyone fell into that position."
Rhee told Fast Company magazine that an unspecified number of the 266 teachers laid off in October had physically or sexually abused students. She later revealed that five had been suspended for corporal punishment and one was under investigation for sexual misconduct. That teacher allegedly impregnated an 18-year old special-needs student.
Outside the Wilson building, about 100 students from Hardy Middle School's marching band played rally songs to demonstrate support for their principal, Patrick Pope. Rhee has reassigned the popular principal, who has attracted a large number of African American students to the art and music program at the Georgetown school.
Rhee is scheduled to testify on the school system's perfomance at a separate hearing next Monday.
-- Ann E. Marimow