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Teacher Who Showed R Movie Is Arrested After Defying Order

March 07, 2000

SANTA PAULA — A Santa Paula High School English teacher who was reprimanded last week for showing an R-rated movie in class was handcuffed and arrested in front of her students Monday after she refused to leave the classroom for a meeting with school officials.

Mary Louise Rawn-Peterson, 41, was taken into custody by police on trespassing charges after district Supt. William Brand suspended her for defying his order to leave the classroom, he said.

Rawn-Peterson, a first-year teacher at the high school, was reprimanded Friday for not obtaining permission from school officials to exhibit the film "American Beauty." The movie tells the story of a man experiencing a midlife crisis who falls in love with his teenaged daughter's classmate.

Brand said the incident began when Assistant Principal Rosalinda Alvarez and Principal Tony Gaitan tried to meet with the teacher outside class to discuss the reprimand. District policy requires prior permission from the school board to show any movie in class.

"We wanted to be sure that our expectations would be met," Brand said.

After the teacher refused to leave her class, Gaitan called Brand and the Santa Paula Police Department, Brand said.

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