Assault charges prompt calls for teacher's removal Parents demand she be kept out of classroom

July 02, 1992|By Deidre Nerreau McCabe | Deidre Nerreau McCabe,Staff Writer

A 57-year-old elementary school teacher charged with assaulting three fourth-grade students should be kept out of the classroom, a group of Crownsville parents say.

And the school's PTA president formally requested yesterday that the Board of Education investigate the school's principal to determine whether he was negligent in failing to report parent complaints regarding the alleged abuse.

Margaret M. Snyder, a veteran teacher at Millersville Elementary School, was charged Monday with three counts of assault and battery in connection with incidents that allegedly took place in her classroom March 23 and June 5.

In the three incidents described, parents claim their children were scratched or received fingernail marks on their chests, stomachs or arms after the teacher grabbed them to force them into line or to sit down. The assault charges were brought by county police, who launched an investigation after school administrators informed police of the complaints June 9.

Snyder, of the 1100 block of Neptune Place in Annapolis, declined to comment on the case.

Parents organizing a petition drive said Snyder has a history of treating students in a rough and abusive manner. Several parents said they started the drive as a formal attempt to have their children excluded from her classroom.

"The petition drive was not to have her thrown out of the school. The petition was so that students would not be assigned to her class," said Kathleen Draego, of Crownsville, who said her daughter was grabbed roughly by the teacher earlier this year.

Joel Susano, whose 9-year-old son was one of three youngsters named in the charging documents, said he tried to have his son transferred out of Snyder's class earlier this year, but was unsuccessful.

After his son came home March 23 with fingernail marks on his arm, which he said were caused by his teacher, Susano decided to file a formal complaint.

"I wanted her acknowledgment that it happened and assurances that it would not happen again," he said. "But she denied everything. She said she never touched him."

Susano, who also has a 5-year-old daughter, said if Snyder is not removed from teaching, "I'd pull my daughter out of that school and put her in private school."

Susano and other parents said they believe Millersville Elementary is a good school and that the principal has been supportive.

But Millersville PTA President Steve Segraves said Board of Education Administrative Regulations clearly state professional staff are required to report any allegations of suspected child abuse or neglect by employees to the Department of Social Services. Segraves said he has information indicating that the required reports were not made in a timely manner.

"A number of parents alleged they had made formal complaints to the principal months ago," he said. "I'm asking the board to check into whether the principal was negligent for not reporting this sooner."

Principal Henry Shubert, whose transfer to Brick Bridge Elementary was announced at yesterday's Board of Education meeting, would not comment on allegations against Snyder or the charges that he was negligent. School spokeswoman Jane Doyle said school administrators could not comment on specifics of the case because it is considered a personnel matter.

Organizers of the petition drive said they started collecting signatures after a June 9 meeting called to air complaints about the teacher. About 30 parents, Schubert and several school administrators attended the meeting, said Draego. Another meeting will be July 7 at 7 p.m. at the Crofton Library, she said.

Some parents, who said their children had been grabbed or pushed by Snyder, said their complaints didn't stop there. As many parents at the meeting complained about lack of control in the classroom and instructional deficiencies as those complaining about physical assaults, Susano said.

"My son was not abused -- he was robbed of a year of education," said Donna Linkins, the mother of a fourth-grader and who signed the petition.

Organizers said they do not know yet how many parents have signed the petitions, since several copies are being circulated. The petitions will be collected and counted at the July 7 meeting, Segraves said.

Several parents said they would not object to Snyder being transferred to an administrative post within the school next year, as long as she did not have direct contact with children.

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