The Rest of The Story

For two days, TV news blitzed Chicago with reports about a teacher accused of holding down a boy and ordering his classmates to beat him up. But in the media frenzy, did the truth get trampled?

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The 10 o'clock news on WMAQ television opened at a snappy pace. The lead story trumpeted new charges that Chicago police were taking bribes from drug dealers. That was followed by a quick report on the murder of a former area police chief's wife and a longer segment on a December cold front advancing on the city.

Later in the broadcast, at about 10 minutes after the hour, anchor Ron Magers turned to a story at the Nettelhorst School on the city's North Side. Reporter Robin George was posted there for a "live" report about an 8-year-old boy who had allegedly been beaten by his classmates--at the direction of their teacher. A six-year veteran of the NBC affiliate, George turned to journalism after a career as a professional figure skater and Ice Capades instructor. She counted among her best work an expose on lead poisoning in the city's schools. Profiled in a 1993 Cosmopolitan article about the glamorous, grueling life of women television reporters, she told the magazine, "I can be at City Hall in the morning, a murder site at noon, and standing knee-deep in a cornfield by the time the sun goes down. I never know what's going to happen."

On this night, George stood in front of the red-brick facade of Nettelhorst, bundled in a dark coat and a dark hat that covered all but a few recalcitrant strands of her blond hair. The school was dark and empty, and George was alone, but she spoke with the urgency of someone reporting a three-alarm fire. According to a police report, she told viewers, a Nettelhorst special education teacher had brought the alleged victim to the front of the room, held him down, and then told "other kids in the classroom to come up one at a time and beat the child." A school security guard intervened, she explained, just as a fourth student joined in the beating.

The principal reported the teacher to police, George continued, but she was not available to comment. "This is apparently not the first problem that they've had with the teacher."

The next morning, television cameramen and reporters were camped out in front of Nettelhorst, and stations across the city were airing reports about a special education teacher gone berserk. CNN would even pick up the story and beam it nationwide. And by evening, WMAQ would lead its 5 p.m. broadcast with the story. Police were not likely to file charges, a reporter noted, but the district was launching its own investigation of a special education teacher at Nettelhorst named Rosalyn Snitowsky.

It's easy to see why the media would jump on the story. Residents of Chicago, the nation's third-largest school system, are almost numb to reports of corruption, incompetence, and failure in public education. But this was truly a wild tale. Sure, a teacher might hit a student in anger. But to hold a kid down and then order the other kids, one by one, to beat him? Outrageous.

These initial reports, however, shared one big problem: The story of what happened that December day at Nettelhorst was not nearly so neat and tidy. When Chicagoans gathered around the water cooler the next day to chew over the ghastly story, they knew few of the facts. It was true, as the WMAQ report indicated, that the teacher under suspicion, 44-year-old Rosalyn Snitowsky, did not have a pristine record: This would be the third time in three years that she had been accused of abuse. But it was also true that the accusations against Snitowsky emerged at a time when Nettelhorst was brimming with conflict and dissension. A new principal was being blamed for the turmoil, and Snitowsky was among those who had sought her ouster--unsuccessfully.

Even now, months after the incident, it's still not exactly clear what happened. But what is obvious is that only a few hours after the accusations against Snitowsky surfaced, she was put on trial in the court of public opinion. And as the parents and leaders of Nettelhorst soon learned, the media set the rules in that court, rules that sometimes have nothing to do with giving the accused a fair trial.

Television news reports are snapshots of reality. Like tourists at the Grand Canyon, TV news teams train their cameras on the spectacular, cropping from the frame anything that muddies a clear, sharp picture. They want the lens to capture vivid colors, not shades of gray.

And like snapshots, television news reports usually capture only a moment in time. To Rosalyn Snitowsky, the story that aired on December 19, 1996, actually began in 1993 when she won election to the Nettelhorst local school council and became a bit player in what is arguably the nation's most ambitious experiment in school democracy. As part of Chicago's 1988 education reforms, local school councils were created at each of the city's more than 500 schools to serve as quasi-school boards. Each council consists of the principal and 10 elected members--six from among the school's parents, two from the faculty, and two from the community at large--and each is given the power to manage discretionary budgets, approve school-improvement plans, and even hire their school's principal.

During Snitowsky's three-year term on the council, three different principals would lead the K-8 Nettelhorst. The first, Peggy Lubin, was known as a teacher's principal during her 15 years at the helm; she smothered them with praise and support while giving them free rein in the classroom. In August, 1993, however, Lubin took an early retirement offer from the district. Her successor did not work out--he left after about a year--and in the spring of 1995, the council found itself shopping for a principal who in many ways would be Lubin's alter ego. The nearly two years of transition had left the school in some disorder, and although Nettelhorst had flourished under Lubin, some council members believed her laissez-faire leadership had fostered a benevolent anarchy that had sabotaged school improvement.

Eventually, the council concluded that Marjorie Adams, an assistant principal at Alexander Graham Bell Elementary School a few miles west of Nettelhorst, fit the bill. Adams was homegrown, having worked in the city's public schools for more than 20 years after graduating from Chicago State University in 1972. She had been an administrator for only a couple of years, but she impressed the council in interviews with her organizational skills and presence. And when members of a parents' committee visited Adams' former schools and vetted her references, they turned up nothing but rave reviews, even when they ambushed teachers in the washroom to gather unvarnished opinions of the candidate.

The vote to hire Adams was unanimous. A 15-year veteran of the school, Snitowsky had lost her own bid for the principal's job in 1993, but she now enthusiastically endorsed Adams. "I liked what she said," she remembers. "I had ventured some ideas about inclusion and about having special-ed teachers go into the regular classroom and help the slower kids. And she seemed to go along with that. And she said she was going to have strict discipline. She said a lot of things that I wanted to hear or that I thought made sense."

One year later, however, council members would conclude that hiring Adams was a mistake. They had many concerns about Adams' leadership. Special education was not being supported, they felt, and money earmarked for instruction was paying instead for administration.

The council was also concerned about faculty disputes with Adams. Some teachers complained that she ran the school like a dictator, demanding approval for everything from bulletin board displays to notes sent home to parents. Others charged that the principal littered their personnel files with memos about trivial infractions of school and district rules--paperwork, the teachers claimed, intended to help Adams oust teachers she didn't like. The worst accounts of the principal made her seem like a Jekyll and Hyde: Prim and proper at first impression, Adams became a vindictive monster if anyone questioned her decisions, the teachers said.

Few teachers aired their grievances publicly, but one of the school's finest teachers, Lynette Emmons, was a vocal critic of Adams. Emmons' language arts classes regularly scored among the top in the city on writing proficiency tests, and during the 1995-96 year, she was named a finalist for the prestigious Golden Apple Award, which honors only a handful of teachers in the Chicago area. Within months of the award, however, Adams filed her annual evaluation of Emmons and lowered her rating from "superior" to "excellent." Emmons filed a grievance with her union and successfully nullified the rating change, claiming that Adams had never visited her class. But the clash capped a series of memos and disputes that Emmons argued bordered on harassment. She quit at the end of the year, and in a letter to a district official, wrote: "Mrs. Adams has destroyed a successful school....It was a precious, wonderful place for years."

Nettelhorst's turbulence that year had many sources. Many of the school's veteran teachers had accepted the same early retirement offer as Lubin, skewing the staff's chemistry. Also, as part of a move to ease overcrowding in other schools, district officials began busing to the underutilized Nettelhorst roughly 150 additional students, boosting its enrollment to nearly 550.

Adams' defenders also contend that Nettelhorst's discord was the result of honest differences of opinion over how to teach and run a school. Many on the faculty were progressives used to free-wheeling under Lubin, yet Adams tried to focus the school's teaching on basic skills.

One teacher argues that Nettelhorst's troubles have been greatly exaggerated. "I have a good working relationship with my principal. I have her support, and she gives me a great deal of autonomy....I don't view her as a villain or as this horrible person. She's a brand-new principal, and in a big-city system, brand-new principals go right by the rules. And I don't blame them. They're just protecting their butts."

Regardless, the friction between the principal and the faculty troubled Nettelhorst council members. They had hired Adams to be a strong leader, but the reports suggested she was overbearing. Several of them had tangled with Adams, as well. At a closed meeting, the council discussed grievances from parents and teachers, many of them submitted anonymously or in group letters. "Can I substantiate these things? No," says Deniz Solworth, a Nettelhorst parent and council member who has since withdrawn her child from the school. "But you do not get 28 or 32 teachers out of a faculty of 54 or so coming and pouring their hearts out if something's not wrong." About the same time, a community newspaper reported that as many as 18 teachers were preparing to leave Nettelhorst.

In June, the council petitioned the Chicago board of education to terminate Adams' four-year contract. The vote to fire her, like the vote to hire her, was unanimous. "I could have been apolitical," Snitowsky says of her vote. "I could have abstained and not participated in the evaluation. But I felt like, well, I got us into this, I have to get us out."

Adams, however, would ride out the storm. Under Chicago's 1988 school reform law, local school councils may hire principals, but the district's board of education retains the power as the employer to sever their contracts. Six months after the Nettelhorst council requested Adams' termination, district officials responded with a letter saying that the council's concerns had been investigated and that central-office staff would "monitor the situation." The date was December 12, 1996.

Seven days later, at 8:50 a.m., Rosalyn Snitowsky began the class that would become citywide news. No other adults were present in her classroom that morning. Although many of the key events presented here were confirmed by police investigators, Snitowsky is the sole source for some of the details.

It was a Thursday, the next-to-last-day of classes before Nettelhorst's two-week winter break. Snitowsky was teaching a self-contained class of six children, all of them 8- and 9-year-olds and each of them suffering from a learning disability or behavioral disorder. They were a rambunctious bunch, prone to cursing, hitting, and fighting, and easily one of her most difficult classes in 18 years of teaching special education.

Today, as was her pre-vacation tradition, Snitowsky promised her students a pizza party to celebrate. But as she read a story to begin the day and started class activities, Jeff, an 8-year-old boy, refused to sit down. (The names of the children have been changed.) Circling the classroom, he cursed her, threw crayons, and hit other children. "He was very mad at me," Snitowsky remembers. "But the truth is, I don't even know why he was mad. But a lot of times, they don't have to have a reason to be angry. They just come in like that."

Snitowsky's threats to cancel the pizza party did little to calm Jeff. She also put the boy on the phone with his mother, but that, too, failed to soothe him. At one point, Snitowsky says, he tried to slam a desk into her.

At about 10, one of the children buzzed the school's central office to request a security guard. Snitowsky finally got Jeff to take his seat, she says, but when he continued to hit nearby children, she held his hands. Jeff, in turn, kicked her and tried to bite her.

By this time, the rest of the class was in an uproar. Snitowsky says the children were angry at Jeff because his behavior was jeopardizing the pizza party. One student, Philip, told the investigators that he ran up and punched Jeff in the face. Philip "stated that he did this because he does not like [Jeff]," the police report notes. "He stated that the teacher had told him to let [Jeff] go."

With his lip bleeding, Jeff ran from the classroom to Adams' office. What happened next cannot be confirmed; Adams has declined comment. But according to Snitowsky, she had two conversations with Adams. The first time, they talked when Adams returned the troublesome boy to the classroom. Snitowsky claims that Adams scolded her for calling the boy's mother and filing a discipline report about Jeff.

They talked again near the end of the day in Adams' office, Snitowsky says. The principal, she claims, reported that her students said she had held Jeff down and told them to hit him. "That's corporal punishment," Snitowsky remembers her saying. Never did Adams say that she would call the police or the district's central office, the teacher contends. According to Snitowsky, the principal ended the conversation, saying, "We'll talk about it in the morning."

If Snitowsky left Nettelhorst that afternoon unaware that she was about to be the target of a police investigation, she found out that night in a phone call, oddly enough, from her mother. It was about 10:30 when the phone rang, and outside the cocoon of her high-rise condominium, the wind was chasing the temperature to single digits. Her mother should have been asleep, Snitowsky thought. Besides, the two had talked on the phone already that day, during a break at school after the fracas in her class. "It's been an exciting day," Snitowsky had told her mother then.

Now, Snitowsky listened as her mother recounted a story just aired on the local television news. Police were investigating a Nettelhorst special education teacher, the station had reported. The teacher was accused of holding down a student and ordering his classmates to beat him up. "Roz," Snitowsky's mother said, "was that you?"

Snitowsky says she did not sleep at all that night. A teacher with a shelf-full of awards could make such accusations seem laughable, but she did not have a sterling record. Twice before, she had been fingered for allegedly hitting children. The first time, in April 1994, Snitowsky was accused of hitting a 9-year-old boy in the arm and kicking him in the ankle in retaliation for his attempts to hit and kick her. Police investigators, however, cleared the teacher of assault charges; in their report, they noted that the boy "denied ever being abused by Ms. Snitowsky."

Snitowsky faced more abuse allegations in 1995. It was again a day just before vacation, Snitowsky says, and she had banned a misbehaving child from a party. The boy later claimed she punched him and pushed him up against a wall; Snitowsky says she merely took a toy ring from the boy's finger that he was not supposed to have. Again, police cleared her, according to Snitowsky.

In both cases, the teacher contends, the allegations against her were manufactured: the first time because of a feud on the Nettelhorst school council, and the second time because the boy banned from the party was angry with her. But the Chicago board of education conducted its own investigation and apparently concluded otherwise. It suspended her for five days after the 1994 incident and for 10 days after the 1995 incident. (According to Snitowsky, she filed a grievance with her union after the 1995 suspension and won back seven days in pay.) "I guess they decided I was guilty," Snitowsky says.

Neither episode was reported in the media. This time, though, it was obvious that things were going to be different. The morning after the WMAQ report, she went to the police and was told that investigators would talk with her later in the day. The officers were friendly, she says, and one of them advised her, "Hide. The media is going to be after you."

The rest of the day, Snitowsky says, the phone rang off the hook with calls from reporters. She declined to be interviewed on camera, but on its five o'clock broadcast, WMAQ's Tracy Haynes aired two fractured quotes from a conversation with her that sounded more like self-incrimination than a defense. "Snitowsky would not go on camera today," Haynes reported, "saying she can't do so until her teachers' union allows her to. But she did tell us, `That there was [sic] a couple of kids that punched him' and `I held his hands.' "

Haynes also reported that "there are those who feel good about Snitowsky's work" and quoted a parent saying, "I trust the teachers of my son."

Later that night, about 24 hours after WMAQ's initial report, police investigators filed a six-page report concluding that Snitowsky was not "responsible for any criminal acts" and requesting that the allegations be classified as "unfounded."

A few weeks later, the state's Department of Children and Family Services concluded the same, saying it did not find credible evidence to support the abuse allegations. By then, however, the media that were once camped out at the school had long moved on. For them, the story was over.

On January 13, Snitowsky filed a civil lawsuit in the Circuit Court of Cook County, charging several defendants--including Marjorie Adams, the Chicago board of education, and WMAQ--with defamation, invasion of privacy, and intentional infliction of emotional duress.

Snitowsky claims in the suit that Adams twisted the December 19 classroom fracas into a criminal complaint in retaliation for the council's move to fire her. The teacher contends that following last spring's vote, Adams lowered her rating on her annual performance evaluation and promised to start proceedings to terminate her.

Some at Nettelhorst are convinced that Adams set Snitowsky up for a fall. Friction at the school between the principal and her faculty continued in the 1996-97 school year. At least one teacher filed a discrimination complaint against the principal with the Illinois Department of Human Rights; the complaint was settled under the condition that neither side comment publicly about the case.

But Adams' defenders argue that the portrait of the principal as a vindictive tyrant doesn't ring true. "This doesn't sound characteristic of Marjorie," says Robert Guercio, principal of Alexander Graham Bell Elementary and her former boss. "She was wonderful. She was well thought of by me, by the teachers, and by the children."

All the defendants have filed to dismiss Snitowsky's lawsuit. Adams in a court brief argues that she has immunity from the suit under Illinois law because she reported the incident to police and child-welfare officials believing in good faith that something happened that day. "Any statement to police was done solely to protect [the student]," the brief states. "It was [the student's] rights which were the issue to be considered on the day in question."

Adams declined to be interviewed for this story, citing the pending litigation. But James Vega, her attorney appointed by the Chicago board of education, said, "There is much more to this case than meets the eye. There is a lot more to the plaintiff's background than has been brought out yet."

Given the facts known so far, it's possible to construct a scenario in which Adams acted without ill will. Adams reported to police that when Jeff came to her office crying, he told her that Snitowsky instigated his beating. When she gathered the other students together, Adams told the investigators, they repeated "the exact same story."

Indeed, although all the students interviewed by police would eventually deny that Snitowsky told them to hit Jeff, one boy initially claimed that the teacher at first held Jeff down and "told the class to beat him up." Three of the children also said that after Jeff was hit, Snitowsky told him that he "deserved it" or that "it was good for him." (Snitowsky says she told him, "That's what you get when you don't sit down.")

Hearing such reports from the students, Adams might have felt compelled to contact the authorities. In recent years, parents have won several high-profile lawsuits against school administrators who failed to forward reports of abuse or sexual misconduct to police or child-welfare authorities. A new principal, Adams was known as a stickler for rules. Like most other states, Illinois requires teachers, administrators, and school officials to report any suspected abuse or neglect of children. Failure to report carries a stiff penalty--up to a year in prison.

"If anybody comes to us with reports of child abuse or any other kind of abuse, we are mandated to report it," says Beverly Tunney, president of the Chicago Principals and Administrators Association. "Our job is not to determine whether abuse took place; our responsibility is to report it to DCFS and let them sort it out."

Since 1990, the Department of Children and Family Services has sorted out nearly 3,800 reports of abuse by teachers, administrators, or other certified educators in Illinois. The yearly total of such cases has climbed nearly 80 percent since 1990, bumped higher and higher by both the public's increasing awareness of abuse and educators' increasing awareness of their duty to report it. Says Pamelyn Massarsky, a top executive with the Chicago Teachers Union: "Whenever you see some made-for-TV movie about a teacher abusing a child or being suspected of abuse of a child in his classroom, there seems to be a spike in the graph of accusations leveled against teachers. Often the accusations are by kids themselves who want to get back at teachers they don't like or who haven't given them the grades they want, or what have you. It is a problem."

Naturally, the increased scrutiny has helped to purge the teaching ranks of dozens, if not hundreds, of bad apples. At the same time, though, it has raised suspicions about thousands of innocent educators. Of those 3, 800 school-related cases investigated by DCFS in the last seven years, the agency found credible evidence of abuse in just 605--about 15 percent. In the remaining 3,200 cases, the agency concluded what it did in Snitowsky's situation: The allegations didn't hold up.

Many times, only a handful of school officials learn of the allegations. DCFS expunges its records of "unfounded" cases to protect the accused who are cleared, and the details soon fade from memory.

But when the media gets involved in teacher-misconduct stories, the past is not so easily dismissed. Snitowsky argues in her lawsuit that the media coverage of the December 19 incident burned the allegations--and her name--into the minds of many Chicagoans. "You couldn't have lived in Chicago during those two days and not seen something," says Paul Vickrey, her attorney. "Everybody was talking about it."

Although at least one other Chicago station named Snitowsky, her lawsuit targets only WMAQ, arguing the station did the most to hype it. Over a 36-hour span, the station broadcast the allegations at least eight times. In a brief filed with the court, Vickrey argues that the station transformed his client into "the pariah of Chicago." If the case goes to trial, he'll try to prove that the station's reporting was reckless and showed disregard for the truth.

WMAQ argues in its motion to dismiss the case that its reporting was based on the police report of the incident and was a "fair abridgment" of that report. Station officials do not comment on pending litigation, so key questions about its stories remain a mystery. Who, for example, was Robin George's source for the information that Snitowsky instructed the students to come up "one at a time" and beat Jeff? And why did George report that a security guard "intervened?" The initial report on the incident filed by police--the only report available to George at the time--made no mention of Nettelhorst's security guard. Indeed, the guard would later tell police that when he was summoned to Snitowsky's class, it was "in chaos" but no children were fighting and Snitowsky was not restraining any student.

Even if WMAQ's broadcasts were not defamatory, some at Nettelhorst argue that the station sensationalized the allegations and unjustifiably dragged Snitowsky's name through the mud. "They picked this story up and her name and put it out all over the world without much justification that I can see," says Ed Tanzman, the Nettelhorst council's spokesman on the controversy. "I can't believe somebody didn't think twice about this and exercise a little better judgment.

"I hope the fact that having to deal with the lawsuit, and all the costs associated with it, teaches these people a lesson. What happened was wrong, in my mind. Ms. Snitowsky was subjected to a tremendous terrible experience at a personal and professional level that nobody should have to experience."

Similar charges of sensationalism have been leveled at WMAQ by its own reporters. In a move widely seen as a ratings grab, the station in April hired Jerry Springer, host of a notoriously raunchy television tabloid show, as a commentator. Carol Marin, a longtime WMAQ anchor, resigned in protest, arguing that Springer's hiring reflected the station's commitment to entertainment over in-depth reporting of serious issues. In one interview, she described Springer as "a symptom of a much larger, more serious debate for the very heart and soul of television news. This is about whether news can still be a public trust as well as a business."

Indeed, media critics in recent years have flagellated local television news as "infotainment," with broadcasts dismissing serious issues and investigative work in favor of human interest stories and "interviews with the stars" that serve only to plug their network's prime-time shows. The critics also fume that news producers live by the maxim "if it bleeds, it leads" and stack their programs with stories of murder, crime, and mayhem.

Patricia Dean, chairwoman of broadcast journalism at Northwestern University outside Chicago, is particularly critical of local television reporting on education. She recently completed a survey showing that stations in eight markets devoted only 2 percent of their news programming to education stories. "My fear is that education is not covered because it's not easy," says Dean, a former Chicago television news reporter, producer, and executive. "You can't cover it like breaking news, sending somebody to a news event and sticking a microphone in somebody's face."

Interestingly, though, Dean defends WMAQ's decision to air the allegations against Snitowsky. Television does too many stories on teacher strikes, budget wrangling, and school crime, she argues, but news organizations are obliged to report credible allegations of teacher misconduct. "I don't fault running a story reporting serious charges about a teacher," Dean says. "Charges against a teacher entrusted with caring for our children are important."

WMAQ also was within its rights to attach Snitowsky's name to the allegations. "The principal filed a formal complaint," she explains. " That's public information. Once the principal reported her name to police, it became a matter of public record."

Other news organizations, however, were not eager to broadcast the contents of the police report. The day after the incident, as WMAQ's six o'clock news ran a one-minute segment on the allegations and parent reaction, WBBM, the city's CBS affiliate, devoted only 20 seconds to the story. Chicago's newspapers also played the story low-key. Both the Chicago Sun-Times and the Chicago Tribune ran their only stories about the allegations on December 21, two days after the incident. In the first sentence of a page six brief headlined "Inconsistencies Found In School Beating Story," the Sun-Times noted that "there appears to be no truth to reports" of abuse by a special education teacher at Nettelhorst. The Tribune ran only a 320-word story on page five.

The two papers may have minimized their coverage of the incident because television had beaten them to the scoop. But Mary Elson, a deputy metropolitan editor in charge of the Tribune's education coverage, said the paper approaches teacher-misconduct stories with great caution. "One of the things that you can be sure of when you have incidents like this is that things are usually more complicated than they sound," Elson explains. " You don't want to take these kind of allegations lightly, but you learn pretty quickly in this business that kids are known for stretching the truth."

The Tribune generally does not print the names of teachers under investigation by the district, Elson says. Even if a crime is alleged, the paper most times withholds the name of the teacher implicated until charges are filed. "You just want to be careful because it could affect someone's professional career," Elson explains. "We also realize that teaching in the Chicago schools is a tough job. Teachers are human, and they have human failings, and you don't want to jump all over people who have tough jobs."

Nearly six months after the incident in Snitowsky's classroom aired on television, she sits in a law office conference room, 46 stories above downtown Chicago. Outside the conference room's picture window, boats are skimming along Lake Michigan, and the afternoon sun is shining with the promise of spring.

It's a Friday and the end of Snitowsky's first week back teaching at Nettelhorst. The district reassigned her to its central office for most of January, but when they cleared her to go back to Nettelhorst, she took more than three months of sick leave. On her return, some of her kids greeted her warmly, but a few were openly hostile, she says. "They've had umpteen teachers since I've been gone, and to be honest, they really liked the last teacher. He was a man, and I think they liked having a man. They don't have a lot of men in their lives."

Snitowsky and Adams are still working together at Nettelhorst. According to Snitowsky, district officials have said that they cannot accommodate her request for a transfer.

Meanwhile, the Nettelhorst local school council is still trying to get to the bottom of the events of December 19. Nearly six weeks after Snitowsky was told she could return to Nettelhorst, a high-ranking district official told a Chicago Tribune columnist that the teacher was not yet exonerated and that the investigation was still open. The Nettelhorst council has tried to get a report from the district on this investigation, but it's received no word. Says Ed Tanzman, "I have to assume that if the school board's investigation had come to any conclusion that Ms. Snitowsky had done anything contrary to their rules, or contrary to the safety of the children, they wouldn't put her back in the classroom."

This morning, the Chicago media broke yet another story about a teacher supposedly gone awry. A parent walking through the halls of an elementary school had seen 25 5th and 7th graders watching the R-rated Demi Moore movie Striptease. District officials are launching an investigation and have promised to fire the teacher if he is found responsible.

Snitowsky has heard the story. It might be true, she says. Worse things go on in schools and never make the news. Good things happen, too, but that you don't hear about, she says. "It's not the positive things that make the news, it's the negative things. That's what people remember. They're not going to remember if I'm vindicated. They'll remember what I allegedly did."

Vol. 09, Issue 01, Page 46-50

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