Teachers said Sun Valley's 57-member faculty was called to the school library after classes Oct. 3. There, according to teachers and Presser, Principal Bruce D. Williams made a vague reference to a police investigation and told the teachers that authorities had asked for a search of the faculty.
Williams instructed the teachers to hold out their hands, palms up, for inspection, according to the teachers' account.
While Williams and Hill looked on, two vice principals walked among the teachers and examined their hands.
"I was very confused, and I almost felt like a kid that had been caught doing something wrong, and I hadn't been doing anything wrong," biology teacher Beverly Faux recalled yesterday.
Teachers later learned from a newspaper account that one of their colleagues, Stephen M. Wilchensky, 42, of Chester, had been arrested in the school parking lot and charged with stealing eight $1 bills from a school fund kept in a vice principal's office.
Police said Wilchensky was caught purple-handed - his fingers and palms stained by dye that had been placed on the school money in a theft investigation.
Presser said teachers eventually were told by administrators that they had been looking for the dye on other teachers' hands. In an exchange of letters with the district last fall, Presser said the ACLU would take legal action against the district unless it promised not to repeat such actions.
Aston Police Chief James McCarthy said yesterday that he did ask school officials to check the teachers' hands. But he said he did not ask that the faculty be detained for a search.
Superintendent Hill yesterday declined to comment on the case. In his letter to Presser, Hill promised "no further repetition of this kind of investigatory process."
Wilchensky, who resigned his teaching job, eventually agreed to pay restitution and was put on 30-day probation in a court program for first-time offenders, authorities said yesterday.