NEW YORK (1010 WINS/CBS 2) – A teacher at a Bronx elementary school is on administrative duty after speaking out about her life as a prostitute and a stripper.
Melissa Petro, 30, in an article published on the Huffington Post earlier this month, criticized Craigslist for shutting down its adult services sections noting that she herself used the web site from Oct. 2006 to Jan. 2007 to run ads exchanging sex for cash.
“I wrote my own ads, screened my own prospective dates, decided on my own what I would and would not do for money, and — best of all — I kept every penny I earned.”
She also wrote that she found the lifestyle physically demanding and emotionally taxing.
Additionally, a video posted online shows Petro reading an anthology describing her experience working as a stripper in Mexico when she was 19.
“I did it for the money but it was also true that I enjoyed it,” Petro said in the video. She also compares her teaching career to having sex with her boyfriend.
“It’s fun and it’s especially fun in the beginning,” she says in the video. “And then its over and then you gotta do it again and again and again.”
Petro has been teaching art to students, from kindergarten through the fifth grade, at PS 70 for the last three years.
Petro’s history is news to most parents.
“That’s just wild, I’m really speechless,” Dahoo Key said.
“Wow, I can’t even begin to say, I mean it’s pretty bad for her,” Amancio Delgado said. ”You don’t know what goes on in a person’s life but she is a school teacher.”
The Department of Education said Petro was hired in August of 2007, makes more than $60,000 per year and has tenure. Months before she was hired, Petro was on a web site listed as a presenter at a sex workers’ conference.
Teachers reacted with differing opinions to the news of Petro’s previous lifestyle.
“The kids love her and she knows art and they’ve learned a lot from her,” teacher Bess Metcalf said.
“When you’re a teacher, you’re a role model for these kids. You have to set a good example,” teacher Howard Titlebaum said.
The Department of Education said the case has been referred to the head of the Office of Special Investigations, Richard Condon.
According to Petro’s blog postings, she was not working as a prostitute while employed by the Department of Education.
The incident was less of a shock on the Upper East Side on Monday evening.
“I don’t think its a big deal. It’s her personal life. Whatever happens in school stays there. What happens in her personal life stays in her personal life,” resident Marcella Scoditti told CBS 2′s John Metaxas.
But at least one parent wondered why she risked her career by blogging about her past.
“I mean because that level, what she does for a living, the she wasn’t thinking. She’s a teacher. She thinks for a living,” PS 70 parent Tony Duke said.