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1st-grade teacher found not guilty of choking kids

A Montgomery County, Md., first-grade teacher was found not guilty of hurting her students Friday.
Image: Susan Lee Burke
Some of Susan Burke's 6- and 7-year-old students said she choked, kicked, punched or scratched them.AP
/ Source: NBCWashington.com

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

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Nine students originally made accusations, and Burke was charged with nine counts of second-degree assault.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.

NBC Washington reported in February that Christine Harris said her daughter was pinched and hit by the teacher last year. Harris claimed that nothing happened after she reported the incident.