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TEACHER TO LOSE CONTRACT.

Byline: Sylvia L. Oliande Staff Writer

SANTA PAULA - A Santa Paula High School teacher on administrative leave from her job after showing an R-rated movie to students learned Thursday that her teaching contract will not be renewed next year.

Mary Louise Rawn-Peterson said she will request a hearing with the Santa Paula Union High School District board soon - not to try to keep her job but to provide documentation that she performed well in her first year at the school.

``I want to make sure they know exactly what I've done,'' she said. ``I want to bring in all my records, lessons and student papers. They said the reason for their decision is based on a year's work in the classroom, so I want them to see what my year's work in the classroom is.

``I want to make sure the record is very clear and accurate,'' she added. ``It's about getting the truth out.''

Rawn-Peterson was arrested on suspicion of trespassing Monday morning after she refused to leave her American Literature class at the request of administrators, who wanted to talk to her about showing ``American Beauty'' in her classroom the previous week.

School Superintendent William Brand said Thursday that the recommendation not to renew her contract came weeks before the arrest and was based on her overall performance. The school board approved that recommendation at its meeting Wednesday.

As a probationary teacher - she has been teaching since 1980 but has been employed in the Santa Paula district only since September - Rawn-Peterson was subject to review during her first year. Teachers are tenured after three full years of service in the district.

``When you're looking at a new teacher, you're looking to see if the teacher is a match for the high school, and the site administration decided she was not,'' Brand said.

He said a hearing before the board is normally reserved for tenured teachers, so he did not know whether Rawn-Peterson would get one.

He said he hopes to speak with her soon to determine whether she will be back in the classroom during the remainder of the school year.

``Obviously, there is due process, and we want to give her due process, but it's essential that she comes in now and we discuss her options,'' he said.

Officials said the school board meeting was crowded Wednesday night with 40 to 50 people. Some called Rawn-Peterson the best teacher they'd ever had, but others said they felt shortchanged in their education by having her as an instructor.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Mar 10, 2000
Words:420
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