Join the Meeting Place for Moms!
Talk to other moms, share advice, and have fun!

(minimum 6 characters)

Maryland teacher is charged with choking, punching first-graders

Posted by on Feb. 9, 2011 at 11:41 AM
  • 27 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 11:41 AM
Add your quick reply below:
You must be a member to reply to this post.
Replies (1-10):
aneela
by on Feb. 9, 2011 at 11:42 AM

I'm still in shock to know things like this happen...

MommyRJ
by on Feb. 9, 2011 at 11:46 AM
Wow.
I'd be furious if someone else hurt my children, especially a teacher!!! Ugh
Posted on CafeMom Mobile
RobynS
by Robyn on Feb. 9, 2011 at 11:46 AM
Oh no!!! The world is just not the safe place we need it to be. :(
aneela
by on Feb. 9, 2011 at 11:52 AM

Exactly...what this teacher was doing was beyond WRONG...

Quoting MommyRJ:

Wow.
I'd be furious if someone else hurt my children, especially a teacher!!! Ugh


aneela
by on Feb. 9, 2011 at 11:53 AM

We expect some sort of safety at school...and now teachers like this one certainly gives teachers a bad rep....our kids go to learn not to be treated like THAT...

Quoting RobynS:

Oh no!!! The world is just not the safe place we need it to be. :(


Bean1980
by on Feb. 9, 2011 at 12:20 PM
Just cannot trust anyone anymore. This is insane, I would have went to that school and treated that teacher the same exact way. Jail is too good for this teacher.
Posted on CafeMom Mobile
Kristenn
by on Feb. 9, 2011 at 12:20 PM
Seriously?! This is ridiculous. I can't believe some people.
Posted on CafeMom Mobile
NewJoyOn1308
by on Feb. 9, 2011 at 12:22 PM

Yikes, glad my daughter isn't school-aged yet. 

AmyG1976
by on Feb. 9, 2011 at 12:25 PM

 hope she gets it all back to her what a horrible B!%@#  poor kids she prob wreaked them for school they will prob never trust a teacher or be okay with going {to school} again.

.Angelica.
by on Feb. 9, 2011 at 12:32 PM

:(

Add your quick reply below:
You must be a member to reply to this post.
Join the Meeting Place for Moms!
Talk to other moms, share advice, and have fun!

(minimum 6 characters)