Teacher accused of assault won't be charged

Posted: Thursday, January 16, 2003

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- City prosecutors said they will not press charges against Ravenwood Elementary School teacher Susan Brusehaber, who was accused in December of choking a student while on a field trip to Wal-Mart.

''We have concluded that no criminal prosecution is warranted due to a lack of evidence to support any criminal conviction,'' Municipal Attorney Bill Greene said in a letter to Anchorage School District Superintendent Carol Comeau.

''I am very pleased they didn't find that a criminal act had been committed,'' Comeau said, adding that she faxed Greene's letter to Ravenwood principal Eunice Long and to Brusehaber, who teaches fourth grade at the Eagle River school. ''I know they'll be relieved.''

Greene's decision followed a lengthy investigation by Anchorage police and a separate one by School District officials.

Brusehaber, an award-winning teacher, was accused by parents Sara Coats and Amy Vandervalk of putting her hands around a student's neck during a Dec. 5 field trip to Wal-Mart. Brusehaber had taken her class to the store to buy gifts for a needy family the students had adopted for the holidays.

Long and Brusehaber did not return calls seeking comment. Nor did Coats and Vandervalk.

Parents, students and teachers rushed to defend Brusehaber in a rally on the school steps after the allegations surfaced.

''She has an incredible reputation,'' Anchorage Education Association president Bob Roses said Wednesday.

The School District's investigation, which was completed earlier this month, found ''very conflicting accounts of what happened'' on the field trip, Comeau said. Brusehaber denied that she put her hands around the male student's neck and pushed hard, and key witnesses supported that account, Comeau said.

The School District has not taken any disciplinary action against Brusehaber. She has continued to teach.

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