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Published: Sunday, 5/16/2004

Beheading video shown to students


Students in Perkins Local School District in northwest Ohio's Erie County and California have been shown a video during class of the beheading of U.S. citizen Nicholas Berg by hooded Islamic militants in Iraq.

Officials in the Perkins Local School district are investigating the incident. Superintendent Sherry Buccieri said she will meet tomorrow with the teacher and the high school principal, Christopher Gasteier.

Ms. Buccieri declined to identify the teacher, an 11th or 12th-grade social studies teacher at the high school.

After the investigation into exactly what happened, the teacher could face a reprimand or be suspended.

Ms. Buccieri said last night that she had not yet been able to reach the teacher, but had spoken with the principal and the school board.

She learned of the incident when a local reporter called her on Friday afternoon after two parents had complained.

At Villa Park High School in California, English teacher Stephen Arcudi said atrocities are occurring on both sides of the Iraqi war and played the entire video footage of the beheading. A group of students gathered to view the footage Wednesday, which included showing Mr. Berg's severed head. Some stayed in their seats.

Judith Ruiz, 17, stepped up without much thought. But after seeing the scene unfold, she was upset - even though she doesn't believe her teacher had any bad intentions.

Responding to complaints the next day from a student and a parent, Villa Park High officials put Mr. Arcudi on administrative leave Friday as they investigate the incident.

"I think [showing the killing] is extremely damaging," said Tina Barger, 43, whose two sons, Jacob, 17, and Hamilton, 16, attend Villa Park High. "I know adults who've seen it who are shocked and stunned."

The footage of Mr. Berg's beheading was also shown to students in Mr. Arcudi's sixth-period senior English class.

"This should not have happened," Orange Unified Superintendent Robert L. French said. "I'd be curious about how he worked this into his [lesson]. We're talking about young, impressionable minds."

Villa Park High officials visited Mr. Arcudi's classes and apologized to his students, a school official said.

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