Suspended teacher had clean record at SSISD
Graphic video shown in criminology class

Kerry Craig | News-Telegram Assistant Editor

May 28, 2004 -- Sulphur Springs Independent School District administrators Wednesday released the identity of a high school teacher who was suspended with pay for the remainder of the school year in response to a Freedom of Information request made by the News-Telegram Monday.

Assistant Superintendent Randy Reed identified the teacher as Robert Halter, a career technology instructor at Sulphur Springs High School.

Halter was suspended Friday for showing students the graphic video of American civilian Nicholas Berg's beheading at the hands of terrorists in Iraq.

Reed said students permitted to watch the video were members of a criminology class that was studying current and world events and taught by Halter.

Superintendent Dr. Mark Henry said 16 students were in the class at the time the video was shown, but not all of them watched it.

"The best we can come up with is that about eight kids actually watched the video off a computer screen," Henry said following a called meeting of the SSISD board Monday when school trustees upheld the administrative suspension.

School records indicate Halter, a 22-year veteran teacher, has been a teacher in Sulphur Springs schools for the past 14 years. During that time, Reed said, there had been no previous incidents in which the teacher had been sanctioned.

Halter's suspension came after a parent of one of the students in the criminology class complained to administration officials about the showing of the video.

Board members are expected to continue an investigation into the incident and possibly discuss it further in a June meeting.

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