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.”

LISTEN: 1010 WINS’ Juliet Papa reports | IMAGES: Melissa Petro Personal Photos

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.

Comments (48)
  1. David Timmins says:

    All of her detractors have such innocent pure lives…


    She turns her life around to help others, but that just isn’t good enough for some. I’d rather an honest individual who shuns her past teach my children in school than those of you who wrongly think you are on a higher moral ground.

    Let’s examine the details of your life!

  2. Mal says:

    Would you send your child to a school where the teachers use drugs or abuse alcohol? You wouldn’t want to, but it happens. You just don’t know abot the habbits of the teachers because it hasn’t surfaced yet. And this woman isn’t much different frmo the men and women who sleep their way to high paing positions. If she is doing what’s asked of her as a teacher and doing it well, why should she be removed from the classroom when so many teachers with tenure don’t give a damn if your child learns or not, and get paid to teach sub par to standards. Judge not lest you be judged first!!!

  3. Jess says:

    Roy, She teaches art NOT ethics.

  4. Munk says:

    I’d love to do her!!!

  5. Roy says:

    So she’s an ex stripper, an ex prostitute, an income tax evader,……….is this what you want teaching your children ?

  6. KMar says:

    Honestly, this isn’t a big deal to me. Who cares about his ‘career’ before becoming an art teacher. We need to commend her for turning her life around and getting a real job. We need to stop being judgmental. Who says that you can’t turn your life around?

    1. KPMc says:

      If that were the case it might be inspiring… but she is PROUD of her past. There is no lesson to teach there.

  7. Jess says:

    I don’t feel it is as big a deal as it is being made out to be. She’s only guilty for being honest, so much for free speech. What worries me is all of the things we DON’T know about those we THINK we know. What are you hiding? Who are you to pass judgment? How many times have you done it, for FREE?

    Besides, do you really think KIDS would be paying as much attention to all this if the ADULTS around them weren’t making such a FUSS. I think NOT!

  8. Flynn says:

    LOL, Besalel…right? Hell, THAT’S the real crime here.

  9. Flynn says:

    Explain how she looks unstable? Simply by the picture? Wow, talk about judging books by covers. Maybe she was asked a funny question. Maybe she was thinking about something amusing (minds outta the gutter people LOL)

    But seriously, I think her only stupid move was making it public and not expecting some backlash. Otherwise if she had kept her past private, who the hell cares?

    Plenty of people have skeletons in their closet and go on to do good things for society. Besides, for all my dear religious right friends out there, didn’t someone in that big old special book of yours say “Whomever is without sin cast the first stone?”

  10. Besalel says:

    She was hired in 2007 and ALREADY has tenure?!?!?!

  11. fern says:

    Taking out that section of the craiglist did not solve the problem, it made it more opaque.
    As for this teacher in my opinion if you do not like her former job or the way she dresses send your kids to a good Roman Catholic school where they can learn anatomy in private course with the priests.

  12. allj says:

    Kids won’t respect her. The parents will protest until she’s fired. In some professions it wouldn’t matter, but this one it does. Unfortunately, that’s the way it is. The parents have a point. Her presence in the classroom will influence the kids or at lease cause them to ask questions that are not age appropriate. The teacher should not have said anything about it…now the whole world knows.

  13. Linda says:

    Teachers are asked to put their pass experiences on their resumes and previous employment. Her past is a concern to our profession because we have a moral standard. She is also plain stupid. If anything she should be fired for stupidity.

  14. Wild Ride says:

    The Rubber Room just got a W hole lot more interesting !!! WOW !!!

  15. RICARDO K. MONTEJO says:

    People have struggles in their past. In her that struggle may have contributed to choose the teaching profession. Such is a noble decision. Needless to say her option to enter into the most noble profession made her promise to herself a lot of ammends. I STRONGLY RECOMMEND – LET HER CONTINUE TEACHING.

  16. max says:

    my wxwife was a prostitute before we met and so was another girlfriend. it shouldn’t matter what she did in the past. it’s her life and she’s honest about who she really is. i admire petro and i’d like to buy her a beer

  17. texan says:

    Can she teach adults art class???

  18. tootall says:

    I give her a lot of credit , Women do the same thing all the time yet some how it’s a man’s fault ..

  19. Pyrrhus says:

    Bronx teacher? PS 70 is in Astoria, Queens.

    1. axx says:

      Yes, but there is another PS 70 in the Bronx.

  20. jtorres says:

    Maybe she’s a popular teacher but it’s obvious she has really poor judgement. Stripping is in her past but at least it’s legal and maybe she had little options. But prostitution? That’s less forgivable. And why reveal all this anyway? And comparing teaching to having sex with her boyfriend?! She sounds like she needs to develop some decorum and some maturity. TMI, honey.

  21. Roy says:

    I hope the TAXMAN makes her repay,the taxes she admittedly failed to pay on her prostitution earnings…………………..I’m sure she must owe uncle sam many thousands of dollars…………..

  22. shaon says:

    Teachers are held in higher standard. She has none. She should not be teaching.

  23. Betty Briscoe says:

    Alot of strippers have been physically abused by family members and facial bruises prevent them from finding employment and housing. Most struggle to make it through college and they don’t have sex for money. Many deeply regret thier prior struggles!

  24. murtaza says:

    She should have not revealed her past history in front of everyone. It badly effects to kids. Teacher should be a role mode it’s a superior service. Every one makes mistakes then you also get chance to make them correct, and to show to be fit in society as good member , so society should not have any obligation .

  25. Big Jim says:

    Where were teachers like her when I was in school?

  26. John says:

    This woman is not very bright. She should expect a letter/visit from the IRS since she has admitted to unreported income. Also Isn’t prostitution illegal??

    1. allj says:

      yeah but it’s probably such a small thing for the IRS to pursue and there’s no way to prove how much $ she made, unless she deposited it her bank. if she got caught in a sting, then she would be in trouble, but there are things called evidence and statute of limitations. besides, if gov spitzer didn’t get charges, then why should she?

  27. Jide, Lagos, Nigeria says:

    At least, she is honest. I think she should be allowed to continue her job without any molestation – there are worse teachers in that same school if you investigate. Let her continue her life and sin no more.

  28. alex says:

    good for her, whatever makes you happy sweety

  29. jim b says:

    My concern is not so much as what she did in the past, but its her current view of the craigslist adult ad situation.

  30. yaa konadu says:

    What was the need for her to reveal her past life in the way she did? She looks unstable, unsafe and unsure in life. She cannot be an reliable and trusted kids teacher. she has to be referred to the psychologist immediately!

  31. Patrick says:

    Wow people love to be on their high horse. There is nothing wrong with what she used to do. There are women who used to work in Vegas or just random strip clubs to pay their ways through college. What she did in the past is her business who cares i would let my kids go to her class it doesn’t matter what she used to do it matters how good she is at her job now. There are probably plenty of teachers out there who used to have a past or are doing things now that don’t affect how they are as teachers.

    1. StormsNYC says:

      Yeah, but those people don’t talk about it professionally or compare their current occupation to their time stripping publically. Professional people expect people to act professionally…

  32. Terry6206 says:

    She sounds unstable — hopefully she won’t be sucking tax money as a secretary on the Education payroll for long. Next time get a decent person to teach — one of the long-term unemployed normal teachers.

    1. Jim says:

      Your definition of “normal” is probably not most people’s.
      She actually sounds fine. Her critics have too puritanical
      a view about sex anyhow. If she practiced sex safely
      its really no big deal, in fact she probably did a lot of good.

      In any event, this situation alone would not change my decision
      to send my kids to her class.

      1. Lynne says:

        Are you out of your mind? You would send your children to be taught by a prostitute? Have you no values at all? Doesn’t it strike you that her history of prostitution might be relevant to her judgment, her ethics, and her view of the relationship between genders? Don’t you care about the views held by and the maturity of a person who interacts with your children when you are not around?

      2. allj says:

        Figures a man would have that view.
        She is not suitable to work with kids.

  33. Craig List says:

    Well, at least she has a trade to fall back on!

  34. Flynn says:

    On the one hand, What she did for a job BEFORE she became a teacher is really her business. And certainly wouldn’t have impacted her teaching ability. It’s not like she welcomed kids into the art room and said “Morning everyone, please put on your smocks, oh and by the way, I was a lady of the evening.”

    On the other hand, she should have been smart enough to realize that writing such an article was going to cause a stink with over-reactionary admins and parents who are already upset about a little cleavage on Sesame Street.

    1. StormsNYC says:

      She likely didn’t put her pre-teaching work on her resume, so had she done so, would the Dept. of Ed. have hired her? Likely not…

    2. KPMc says:

      So if my job prior before was say… selling drugs… then its my own business?

      How about if I robbed liquor stores?

      I’m not making a moral judgment… just a legal one. She was a CRIMINAL before she was a teacher. That usually disqualifies you… or should.

      And most importantly in my eyes… did she pay taxes on her years of prostitution??

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