First-Grade Teacher Not Guilty in Choking Case

Not guilty on seven counts of second-degree assault

By Jane Watrel and Matthew Stabley
|  Friday, Oct 21, 2011  |  Updated 7:09 PM EDT
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First-Grade Teacher Not Guilty in Choking Case

Nine students originally accused Susan Burke of either choking, grabbing, pinching or scratching them.

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A Montgomery County, Md., first-grade teacher was found not guilty of hurting her students Friday.

Susan Burke, 36, was suspended from Greencastle Elementary School in Silver Spring, Md., in January after several students accused her of either choking, grabbing, pinching or scratching them, and causing pain in the process.

Burke denied any punitive contact.

Six of the 16 students in Susan Burke’s class testified about the alleged abuse.

Nine students originally made accusations, and Burke was charged with nine counts of second-degree assault. Two counts were dropped before the case went to the jury Friday afternoon.

Burke testified that when her students misbehaved, fought or disrupted class, she would physically redirect them to a corner of her portable classroom to talk to them, News4’s Chris Gordon reported Thursday. Sometimes she grabbed them by the wrist, she said, and sometimes the students got angry. She said she used light force.

Prosecutors called supervisors and coworkers as rebuttal witnesses to testify that Burke isn’t always truthful, Gordon reported.

Burke still faces felony child abuse charges.

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