BERLIN TOWNSHIP, N.J. -- A former "Teacher of the Year" in a New Jersey school district was fired after being arrested for allegedly streaking through an apartment complex. Mark C. Bringhurst, a tenured fifth grade teacher in Vineland, N.J., was the first educator to lose his job under the state's speedier new tenure law, championed by Gov. Chris Christie.
Bringhurst, 41, of Berlin Township, N.J., was so respected that his colleagues had named him "Teacher of the Year" for 2011-12, but the former member of a Philadelphia comedy improv troupe (pictured above) apparently had a playful side. One warm March evening, he ran naked through a busy apartment complex on a dare, according to the arbitrator's ruling. It took four months from the time the Vineland Board of Education voted to dismiss Bringhurst for the incident until an arbitrator made his decision last week.
Previously, such cases normally took a year or longer.
Bringhurst was arrested on a lewdness charge after a witness notified police that he'd seen a naked man running through the Greenway Village Apartments in Berlin Township. The witness also told police that he'd seen this individual streak before, but this time he reported the streaking to police because "there were children in the area and he was concerned for their safety," according to the investigative report, which was included in the arbitrator's decision.
While Bringhurst at first denied being in Greenway, he later admitted to police that he'd run naked through the complex, but he said that he did it on a dare from someone he'd met online. He also admitted to police that he had streaked through the complex a year earlier, also on a dare, according to NJ.com.
Police charged him with fourth-degree crime of lewdness but then lowered the charge to "acting in an improper manner," NJ.com reports. Bringhurst, a former member of the Philly improv Theater told police that he was really sorry and didn't intend for anyone to see him naked, according to the investigative report.
But school officials were unmoved, and Bringhurst, a married father of three, lost his $56,451-a-year teaching job, according to The Daily Journal.
"Teachers serve as role models to children, and they are responsible for the children's care and custody," the school board's position read. Bringhurst was officially dismissed for committing "acts of unbecoming conduct" of a teacher, the arbitrator's decision says. His firing was handled through an arbitrator.
Bringhurst's lawyer and a New Jersey School Boards Association lawyer both told The Press of Atlantic City the process was fair and quick.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
CORRECTION -- This post previously included an image of a person who was misidentified as Bringhurst.
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