D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee is firing back at claims by students, educators and a certain Mayor for Life following the layoff of 229 teachers.
One claim Rhee blasted was from a student who said she is being forced to take first-year Spanish because her third-year French teacher was fired. Rhee had a ready answer when asked about the claim: she said the student goes to McKinley, and no French teachers had been let go at McKinley.
"So it’s a little confusing to us," Rhee said. Can you say ‘faux pas?’
Rhee also had words for hospitalized Councilman Marion Barry, who on Tuesday said that Rhee “lied” to students about the firings.
“I always think that Councilmember Barry has an interesting interpretation of things,” Rhee said calmly, hiding any sign of resentment. “I certainly am willing to answer any questions the councilmember has, but to be accused of lying -- I just don’t think that’s right.”
Another claim Rhee addressed was that D.C. police officers were brought in to hustle teachers out the door. Rhee denied that, saying that officers were present at the schools because their security contractor, Hawk One, recently “went under.”
“Some people took that to mean that we had them there specifically for reduction purposes, and that was absolutely not the case,” Rhee insisted.
She admitted that in one case police intervened when a laid off teacher “got a little, uh, excited.” But she expressed empathy for the employee. “Certainly that’s understandable,” she said.