Teacher charged in assault will not return, principal says

August 14, 1992|By Deidre Nerreau McCabe | Deidre Nerreau McCabe,Staff Writer

A Millersville Elementary school teacher charged with assaulting three students will not return to her home school this fall, the principal said, to the relief of parents who threatened to picket if the teacher came back.

James W. Preston, the new principal at Millersville, said that Margaret M. Snyder, a veteran fourth-grade teacher, would not return when school starts Aug. 31.

"We will be hiring a certified teacher as a long-term substitute" to cover the class, he said.

Mr. Preston said he did not know whether Mrs. Snyder would be assigned elsewhere or be put on paid administrative leave.

Jane W. Doyle, a school spokeswoman, said that no decision had been made about the teacher's status.

She could not confirm the principal's statements that the teacher would not return to Millersville.

"There's a long process that has to be followed," she said. "It's not as easy as one person just making a decision."

Parents at Millersville began lobbying for Mrs. Snyder's removal after allegations of child abuse were made last spring.

Ms. Snyder, 57, was charged by police June 29 in alleged assaults on three fourth-grade students in her classroom last March and June.

The teacher is scheduled to stand trial Oct. 16 in Glen Burnie District Court on assault and battery charges.

A week after the teacher was charged, a group of parents said that Henry Shubert, then principal of Millersville, had known about the complaints since March but failed to take action, as required by state law.

On July 5, Millersville PTA president Steve Segraves asked Superintendent C. Berry Carter to launch a full investigation.

On July 27, the superintendent released a two-paragraph statement clearing the principal of wrongdoing.

But in the interim, the school board had approved a principal swap between Millersville and Brock Bridge Elementary, Mr. Preston's former school. The swap, made before the investigation was completed, infuriated Brock Bridge parents, who protested the transfer. Brock Bridge parents now say they are now resigned to the move, although not all are happy about it.

"We were told that he is innocent and that's that," said Lynn Buckholdt, who has two children at the school.

All information about complaints and reports made to the Department of Social Services has been kept secret. School administrators have said repeatedly the information is confidential and cannot be released to parents.

Mr. Preston said he is working diligently with Millersville parent to put the controversy behind them.

"I'm looking forward to having a calm opening and having a normal year," he said. "After all that happened last year, I'm hoping the children can have a good year and not be distracted from their education."

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