Montgomery County School Superintendent Edward Andrews yesterday recommended that high school teacher Kathryn Megyeri be suspended for four months for publishing an article under her name that included portions of a fictional essay written by a student at her school.
Andrews placed Megyeri, 39, a teacher at Winston Churchill High School in Potomac, on a two-week leave with pay beginning Monday, to give her time to ask for a hearing before the seven-member school board, which will make the final decision.
Andrews called for Megyeri to be suspended "on grounds of immorality and misconduct in office." He added that Megyeri should not be allowed to return to Churchill, but should be placed "in another position for which she is qualified," when she returns to work.
That recommendation, if upheld by the board, would make yesterday Megyeri's last day at Churchill. Megyeri was allowed to continue teaching her English classes at Churchill during Andrews' investigation, which began nearly four weeks ago.
Megyeri has a right to a hearing before the board within 10 days, but said yesterday that she had not decided whether to ask for one. She is paid on a 10-month schedule, so under Andrews' recommendation, she would only lose pay for two months, not four.
School system officials refused to comment on the case, but several school system sources hinted that the board may consider stiffening the penalty Andrews suggested.
Megyeri was paid $500 by Woman's World magazine for an article in the March 29 issue under her byline that contained passages from a fictional essay written by Churchill student Brenda Way.
Way's story, called "The Letter," was about teen-age abortion and was published a year ago in Erehwon, the school's literary magazine.
Way, now a 17-year-old senior, won an honorable mention for the story in the school's fiction-writing contest. Megyeri's story, called "Please Try to Understand," was about a teen-ager's experience with abortion.
It appeared in a section of Woman's World called "In Real Life, a series of intimate stories."
Megyeri said that "it didn't matter" that the story was part fact and part fiction because Woman's World publishes both fact and fiction.
Editors at Woman's World said the magazine prints fiction in a special section and that Megyeri did not inform them that her entire story was not true. The magazine sent Way a check for $500 when its editors learned that her material had been used in Megyeri's article.
Megyeri and Way both say they have not met.
Megyeri said she did not consult Way about using her story because she had been told by a lawyer that "once something is published, it's public, and you can use it."
Megyeri has taught in county schools since 1965 and at Churchill since 1977. Her resume' says she received a bachelor's degree in English and speech from St. Olaf's College in Minnesota in 1965, and a master's in English and education from George Washington University in 1969.
According to her resume', she received a second master's degree in 1982 in gerontology, and she has been active in organizations helping the elderly.
School officials who know Megyeri said she often describes herself as a free-lance writer, and that she wrote frequently for the school system's publication, The Bulletin.