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Diverse Crowd Rallies in Support of Teacher in Question

District 36 administrators moved their meeting to a larger venue to accommodate about 80 people at the special board meeting Wednesday morning.

The public outcry was loud, harsh and long over 's treatment of fourth-grade teacher David Wartik on Wednesday morning.

"I don't like the way the district has proceeded in this matter," said Melissa Mizel, a parent to two children who had Wartik as their teacher, and who was third in line at the podium. "It's been precipitous and unfair to David."

About 80 people assembled at the open session meeting of the District 36 board members to voice their support for Wartik, who has been put on leave due to concerns about an Evanston police investigation into a possible incident that happened in the late 1990s at a private North Shore school.

During one hour of public comment, a variety of community members spoke, about 15 people total, ranging from Winnetka Congregational Church's Sr. Minister Joseph Shank to a former student and current West Point cadet, who said Wartik has been "treated like a guilty convict."

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"The level of the fear in this room is palpable," said Shank, who added that he trusts Wartik completely.

Other speakers included Wartik's younger sister Maggie, a former colleague and teacher at Baker School, and Winnetka parents.

Wartik was at the meeting, sitting next to his sister. At one point, parents and teachers hugged him and patted his back.He made no public comments and declined to speak with Patch.

School Board President Dana Crumley reiterated that the board had not made any final decisions and that the board's interest is to protect and educate children. She also said that some information is privvy only to the board and can be withheld from the public due to privary laws to protect teachers.

The board moved to executive session after the public comment and will return to the open meeting after the session. Stay tuned for updates on this story.

Wartik has taught at the district for 12 years.

District officials were unavailable for comment.

Want to share your opinion on the issue? Submit your letter to the editor by email to carrie.porter@patch.com.

cindy stremmel March 15, 2012 at 05:35 PM
I have known David since my oldest son, 16 now, and a student at New Trier, started playing KWBA Travel Baseball in 3rd grade. Although my son never had David as a coach; we knew him and always hoped he would be his coach (but David usually coached the A level and my son played at the B level). I also have another son who played KWBA and had interactions with David through the organization like try outs, evaluations, practices, etc. I always observed David as an outstanding role model for my kids and other kids. He was professional, friendly and very personable. We are a Crow Island family, so my kids were never fortunate enough to have him for a teacher. Everyone in the community alwaus raved about David so all of this is quite shocking. My children and I have lived in Winnetka for almost 19 years..

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