April 16, 2010

D.C. principal found dead in Silver Spring home

A middle school principal who was wooed from Montgomery County as part of Chancellor Michelle Rhee's effort to improve the struggling D.C. system was found dead in his Silver Spring home Thursday night, police said. Montgomery County police called the death "suspicious" and said they are searching for the victim's dark blue 2007 Nissan Xterra SUV.

Brian Betts, 42, who became principal of Shaw Middle School at Garnett Patterson in fall of 2008, did not report for work on Thursday, police said. A co-worker who went to his home in the 9300 block of Columbia Boulevard in Silver Spring found him dead inside. Police, who were called to the scene about 7:30 p.m., did not say whether investigators have determined the cause of death.

When Rhee hired Betts, she gave him unusual latitude to select the teachers he wanted and change rules he felt were not helping students learn. Betts visited scores of students and parents before the 2008-2009 school year started, introducing himself and asking, among other things, how they felt about a white man running a school where all of the students were black or Hispanic. He eliminated eliminated homeroom periods and recess, which he considered wastes of time, and boosted teacher training significantly.

For middle school students, Betts told The Washington Post in 2008, "nothing that I have ever seen trumps personal relationships . . . The kids in this building who can be absolutely horrible in one person's class can be angelic in another because they have formed a relationship with that teacher." SOURCE: Washington Post

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