Friday March 19, 2010

CENTRAL FALLS, R.I. (AP) - A teacher at a failing school where he and all his colleagues are being fired hung an effigy of President Barack Obama in his classroom, apparently in reaction to Obama's support of extreme measures to ensure accountability in schools.

The teachers union on Thursday condemned the effigy, discovered Monday in the teacher's third-floor classroom at Central Falls High School, saying it was wrong and cannot be condoned under any circumstances.

The effigy was found in the teacher's classroom by Superintendent Frances Gallo, Rhode Island Department of Education spokeswoman Nicole Shaffer told The Associated Press. Shaffer said the department would not have any further comment.

Gallo told the AP on Thursday evening that the foot-tall Obama doll that she saw Monday was hung from its feet from a white board and was holding a sign that said, "Fire Central Falls teachers." "I was deeply saddened," Gallo said. "It's a horrific - a startling - kind of picture when you walk in and see that."

She said that the teacher had been issued a "strong letter of reprimand" and that she considered it an internal matter.

Obama had called the firings in Central Falls an example of holding failing schools accountable. The White House did not have any immediate comment Thursday. U.S. Secret Service spokesman Malcolm Wiley said the agency was aware of the doll but declined to comment further.

The president of the Central Falls Teachers Union, Jane Sessums, said in a written statement that the teacher, whose name wasn't disclosed, hung the doll "as part of what he described as a lesson plan."

A spokesman for the union said he could not immediately explain what that meant.