Wisconsin teacher suspended over documentary returns to work

May 24, 2017

MOUNT HOREB A Wisconsin teacher has returned to school after being placed on leave following complaints about a documentary shown in her class.

Mount Horeb High School teacher Beth Maglio returned to the classroom Tuesday, the Wisconsin State Journal (http://bit.ly/2rdswEe ) reported. She was suspended with pay Friday after unidentified critics complained that "Miss Representation," a 2011 documentary about how women are portrayed in the media, contained graphic images.

District Superintendent Steve Salerno said in a statement to families that the district is "moving forward with a renewed sensitivity to those we serve." He said the goals of the video lesson were appropriate for the course, but that district officials will investigate the incident further.

A substitute teacher played the documentary in the "Social Problems" class earlier this month in accordance with Maglio's lesson plan. The documentary's director, Jennifer Siebel Newsom, said her film "exposes how mainstream media contributes to the under-representation of women and girls in positions of power and influence."

Those who complained to the district said the film depicted women in "humiliating and forced-sexual scenarios."

The district notified local police and state Child Protective Services after the incident. The Dane County District Attorney's Office won't move forward with any alleged violations of state law, Salerno said.

Maglio's lawyer, Lester Pines, said the documentary is a good teaching tool and rated acceptable for anyone 14 years old or older.

"The images in the documentary are all from public sources and none of the images are from pornography sites," Pines said. "That's the whole point of students seeing these images and hearing these prominent women (interviewed in the film) talking about the issues raised by those kinds of images. It's very powerful."

Parent Melissa Austin supports Maglio's use of the film and is organizing a public screening of it at the Mount Horeb Public Library.

"It's about empowering women," Austin wrote in a Facebook post. "It's important. Especially for high school students."



Associated Press