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Maryland teacher is charged with choking, punching first-graders

Posted by on Feb. 9, 2011 at 11:36 AM
  • 20 Replies

By Dan Morse
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, February 8, 2011

A first-grade teacher at a Silver Spring elementary school was charged with several counts of assault Tuesday, when authorities accused her of choking and, in some cases, punching half the 16 students in her class.

The incidents happened in December, in her class full of 6- and 7-year-old students, Montgomery County police said. None of the students was harmed seriously enough to require medical treatment or show visible injuries, law enforcement officials said.

It is uncommon for teachers to be charged criminally over actions in their classrooms, particularly physical encounters against multiple children.

Montgomery school officials said they learned of the allegations Jan. 4 and immediately removed the teacher, Susan Lee Burke, from Greencastle Elementary School and placed her on administrative leave. School officials looked into the accusations and referred the matter to child protective services workers.

Separately, on Jan. 7, a 7-year-old boy arrived at the Briggs Chaney police substation with a parent, said Capt. Paul Starks, a police spokesman. The boy said Burke had assaulted him numerous times, according to documents filed to support her arrest.

Detectives eventually interviewed all of the students in her class and found that eight said they had been assaulted, police said.

"All of the victims described being choked by the suspect," detectives wrote in the arrest records. "Some of the students, in addition to being choked, stated they were kicked, punched, scratched or had their arms squeezed tightly by Susan Burke."

It is unclear whether Burke has retained a lawyer for the assault charges. A phone message left at Burke's home was not returned. A man who picked up the phone listed to Burke's father declined to discuss the matter.

"I have no comments. Thank you," he said before hanging up.

Burke remained in the Montgomery jail late Tuesday. A court commissioner set her bond at $75,000. If she does not post it, she will probably go before a judge for a bond review Wednesday afternoon.

Burke was hired by the Montgomery school system in 2001. She taught at Meadow Hall Elementary School in Rockville for eight years before making a volunteer transfer in 2009 to Greencastle, schools spokesman Dana Tofig said.

Doris Videla, president of Greencastle's PTA, was stunned.

"My son has been at the school for five years, and I have never had an issue with any teacher," she said. "It's just so unfortunate that this happened when there are so many great teachers there."

Burke was charged last year in Carroll County with fraud, credit-card misuse and theft, but the counts were dropped, according to online records.

Her attorney in that case, Todd Mohink, did not respond to phone messages left with his answering service or at his home.

Burke appears to have a Facebook page under the name Susan Turner Burke, with a photograph like hers and a similar work history.

In a section in which she wrote about herself, the page's owner said:

"After 14 years of teaching kindergarten, switching it up to first grade this year. My . . . angels are the light of my life! . . . The last two years have been a true test and I can not thank my friends and family enough! I try and start every day fresh, believe everything happens for a reason and leave things in God's hands."

Police said eight children were assaulted from Dec. 1 to Dec. 31. Detectives learned of a ninth student, who says he or she was choked by Burke on school grounds in March, according to arrest records.

Counseling and support services are being made available to students and their families at the school, according to school officials.

"This teacher remains on administrative leave pending further personnel action," the school system said in its statement. "We cannot discuss specific personnel issues but be assured we take these allegations very seriously. It is important to note that this teacher has not been in the classroom since this allegation was raised."

Staff writer Dan DeVise and researcher Julie Tate contributed to this report.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/02/08/AR2011020806122.html?hpid=topnews

by on Feb. 9, 2011 at 11:36 AM
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Replies (1-10):
aneela
by on Feb. 9, 2011 at 11:36 AM

What the crap is going on in our schools????

LyTe684
by on Feb. 9, 2011 at 11:38 AM

Oh hell no.

aneela
by on Feb. 9, 2011 at 11:44 AM

Girl....looks like it :(

Quoting LyTe684:

Oh hell no.


CoolMommyofboys
by on Feb. 9, 2011 at 11:46 AM

my son is in first grade...I can't imagine this happening to him :(

LyTe684
by on Feb. 9, 2011 at 11:46 AM

I couldn't even read the whole article. Sickening... Ugh!

Quoting aneela:

Girl....looks like it :(

Quoting LyTe684:

Oh hell no.



aneela
by on Feb. 9, 2011 at 11:50 AM

Ugh and we live in Maryland...but this could happen anywhere....

Quoting CoolMommyofboys:

my son is in first grade...I can't imagine this happening to him :(


aneela
by on Feb. 9, 2011 at 11:51 AM

I know right?

Quoting LyTe684:

I couldn't even read the whole article. Sickening... Ugh!

Quoting aneela:

Girl....looks like it :(

Quoting LyTe684:

Oh hell no.




aneela
by on Feb. 9, 2011 at 11:51 AM

We send kids to school to learn not to be abused or threatened and be treated like this...

Barronbaby
by on Feb. 9, 2011 at 12:07 PM
wtf?
Posted on CafeMom Mobile
mamawmom
by on Feb. 9, 2011 at 12:08 PM

Things like this is why parents homeschool.

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