Teacher in lewd dancing trial: Wasn’t firing him enough?

AJC update Wednesday afternoon: Jury found teacher not guilty:

Lots of folks are debating  former chorus Southwest DeKalb High School teacher Nathan Grigsby, who was on trial this week for allowing male students to perform a lewd “Chippendales-style revue” in class.  While jurors deliberated whether Grigsby was guilty of contributing to the deprivation of a minor, many other people made their minds up about the teacher’s failings in this bizarre case.

They contend that the teacher had to be aware that three boys were stripping – one down to his underwear – and dancing provocatively to loud music while girls in the classroom shrieked.

In his defense, Grigsby said he had headphones on because he was helping another student and did not hear the screaming girls or the sexual lyrics. Most people feel that it would be hard to drown out a roomful of shrieking students and booming music. Moreover, they argue that wearing headphones does not blind you. How could a teacher miss three high school seniors stripping and grabbing at their female classmates?

A brief video of the impromptu striptease and dance contradicts the teacher, showing him watching the dance and smiling.

According to AJC story:

The performance was part of an “open-mike” session in Grigsby’s chorus class in December 2008, his attorney Jackie Patterson explained.

“They were singing to me, picking me up, ” Joicelyn Crocker, 18, testified. “One grabbed my legs and picked me up by my waist. He had my ankles.”

Reginald Brayon told jurors he saw the video on his son’s Facebook page and contacted school officials, who later turned it over to the solicitor.

“It was very disturbing to me, ” testified Braylon, whose son, 16, plays in the Southwest DeKalb band. “Mr. Grigsby looked like he was observing, he was watching and in some parts he was smiling. I actually enlarged the video to make sure I can see, and noticed it was Mr. Grigsby.”

Patterson argued the teacher did not watch the whole performance, was helping another student and stopped the music after he realized what was going on.

“Mr. Grigsby did what he could to stop this act when he noticed it, ” Patterson said.

Grigsby can only be seen in a portion of the video, which is little more than a minute long. However, the teacher comes into view in the back of classroom when the boys are grabbing the girls.

James described how, as one of the boys inappropriately touched a female student, Grigsby stands nearby. “He leans over and smiles and laughs, ” the solicitor said of the teacher.

Patterson admitted that the dancing was provocative, but said that it was normal activity at the school.

“That is customary and usual activity at Southwest DeKalb, ” Patterson said. “This is what the kids do daily, weekly, monthly at Southwest DeKalb.”

School officials and prosecutors argued that the dancing was not customary at all.

“What I saw was inappropriate, ” testified Eric Kemp, a Southwest DeKalb assistant principal.

Last week, the solicitor charged Jerramy Barnett, Joe’l Shumate and Kiyon Benton, the three dancers, in connection with the performance. The boys, each 19, face charges of public indecency and disrupting a public school.

I have a lot of questions about Grigsby’s classroom, including how often he held “open mike” sessions. But I am not sure this incident rises to a criminal level and merits the use of taxpayer money to prosecute. Grigsby was fired. Did he really deserve the possibility of prison, too?

And now the county is going after the boys. Before anyone comments that is what black teens do, go to any after prom bash or spring break party in Florida. Teen dancing is provocative today. Period. Whites, blacks, it doesn’t matter. Kids show more flesh and less restraint in their dancing today than a generation ago. I agree with posters who have come back shaking their heads after attending dance recitals. I have gone to several recitals where a stripper pole would have fit well with both the dance moves and the costumes.

47 comments Add your comment

mystery poster

March 31st, 2010
12:38 pm

I could not BELIEVE what I saw the dance team perform at a school pep rally. The girls were lying on their backs gyrating on the floor, and the boys actually got on top of them in a push-up style move. They weren’t on top of the girls very long, but the message was there.

Honestly, the kids may or may not know it’s wrong but it’s the adult sponsors of the dance team that should be ultimately accountable for the content.

As far as an “open mic,” written rules about what is and what is not acceptable should be given to all participants and posted in the room.

I don’t think that this is criminal, it’s a bad precedent to criminalize everything inappropriate.

Jennifer

March 31st, 2010
12:43 pm

Isn’t suspending a kid enough – do we then have to place criminal charges for misdemeanors or minor offenses on them ? While I agree with firing is enough for the teacher – the same questions should be asked about kids.

Nature Dude

March 31st, 2010
1:00 pm

Really? and teenagers don’t have sex either. They all wait till marriage. While agree that adults should not condone such behavior in public places such as schools. Teenagers are young adults, and they shoulc know better, but it should be their parents that hold them accountable.

Fire the teacher, suspend the students, and move on. Quit spending taxpayer dollars on stupid lawsuits!

Hootie

March 31st, 2010
1:08 pm

If the teacher allowed it and watched it, fire him. Criminal charges are rediculous (especially in SW Dekalb!!).
If it happened whiler the teacher was really busy helping another student and once he noticed it he stopped it, what’t all the fuss about? In this case he should not have been fired. As if he has dictatorial control over the classroom every single 1:08.

RJ

March 31st, 2010
1:10 pm

He doesn’t deserve any criminal charge, just let him be fired and move on. The kids should’ve been reprimanded by the school, not the law. I don’t like what they did, but it is a part of today’s culture. This is definitely a waste of taxpayers money.

DeKalb Conservative

March 31st, 2010
1:13 pm

No criminal offense here on the basis that so many students already have their pants halfway to their knees, so there underwear is exposed by default.

Tony

March 31st, 2010
1:35 pm

This is inexcusable in a classroom. The teacher should have been fired. I don’t think criminal penalties are necessary. The kids are as much to blame, too. Were they charged or disciplined by the school? I hope so.

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Ga Citizen

March 31st, 2010
1:48 pm

If they are going to fire and prosecute Nathan Grigsby, then they need to fire and prosecute the cheerleading coach, band director, and a host of others at SWD. Where does everyone think these kids learn and practice their marching band routines? Osmosis? Telepathy? ESP?

No one has a problem with it when the band is competing and performing and playing across the country with their “chippendales” style of performing. Why is this suddenly a problem NOW? And if it IS a problem, why is Mr. Grigsby the ONLY one that has been fired AND prosecuted for it?

Hypocrisy at it’s finest.

catlady

March 31st, 2010
1:52 pm

Let’s see: Participating in sexual harrassment and assault. Contributing to delinquincy of a minor (since it was published on the internet.) Sounds like culpable crimes to me!

RJ

March 31st, 2010
2:21 pm

@catlady, how was this assault? Not one student has come forward and stated they were assaulted; they were participants. Dekalb is letting 200 parapros go and this is how they spend tax dollars?

The Truth

March 31st, 2010
2:47 pm

He’s being prosecuted as an example to other educators who don’t take their high level of responsibility as serious as they should. Nathan Grigsby has been given NUMEROUS oppertunities to end this foolishness snd waste of taxpayer dollars. But he continues to lie and parade on tv like he’s done nothing wrong. If you’ve seen the video(and I have), you can clearly see that he doesn’t have on any head phones, he’s not talking to another student, and he’s laughing! But he gets on the witness stand and says other wise…They are going to make an example out him and he deserves it.

V for Vendetta

March 31st, 2010
3:02 pm

The Truth,

They already have made an example out of him: he was immediately fired. End of story.

When you start putting morality on trial, you are setting a very very dangrous standard.

high school teacher

March 31st, 2010
4:02 pm

The school acted appropriately in firing the teacher and suspending the boys. HOWEVER, If I had had a daughter in that class, I would have personally filed sexual harassment charges. I think the responsibilty of a lawsuit should fall on the parents, not the school.

Were any members of the class under the age of 16? Just wondering.

SWDalum04

March 31st, 2010
4:16 pm

I am a SWD alum and a former student of Mr. Grigsby and first of all anyone who goes and/or went to SWD knows that this is a very normal occurance. Every pep rally or band performance damn near all the students look like those boys. They are called “dancing divas” or “drum majors” and it’s supposed to be ok. Those teachers “band directors” should be fired right along with the principal-sorry man that he is.

Mr. Grigsby shouldn’t have been fired because of this, there are way worse crimes going on in that school and that is the least of their worries.

They never mentioned his character, he was the director of Inspirational Voices the school choir that travels across the country spreading inspirational songs to churches and other groups and being the God fearing man that he is I know his facial expression said it all. He never shows his anger and usually when he would be dissapointed or upset he would just kinda grin and bear it. And now he’s supposed to be jailed for this. Please jail those boys parents…not the teachers who are paid pennies for what they put up with daily.

CHARLES

March 31st, 2010
5:38 pm

I’l add to the comment about Mr. Grigsby. He is the kind of teacher that cares for his students and loves music. He came from a poor background, but understood the importance of education, receiving a Doctorate degree. He’s the kind of teacher that students respect and love because he relates to them and proves that he cares.

VMD

March 31st, 2010
5:47 pm

Agreed Charles…

Teacher in DCSS

March 31st, 2010
5:51 pm

as a teacher in DCSS on the southern end of the county…since when do we have time for an open mic time? Are you kidding me? If I cannot show a video in my social studies class over G they why is this just “ok”?

I get tired of hearing about kids “sexual episodes” in the hallways and classroom as it is. Why should we endorse this as a teacher? When you permit something like this in your room you are endorsing it. Never give your kids a forum that you cannot control…Im sorry, call me a “controlling teacher,” but question what your kids do or perform.

Heres a thought, he should have had the kids perform the routines with him only before he allowed other kids to see it…like a smart teacher should…

You cannot fully and completely trust kids these days….sorry, but thats just the way it is. Its better not to trust them all because you can be deceived like I have been this year by those “reliable” kids

Not Shocked

March 31st, 2010
6:04 pm

As our cultural degenerates into violence and promiscuity, are parents teaching moral and ethical values in the home starting in the early chldhood years? Since religion and moral authority has been all but eradicated in our educational system, what moral authority underlines “inappropriate” verbal/nonverbal behavior? The children and adolescents merely reflect the standards of their cultural and subculture. Why does not the educational system that erased moral authority now teach “appropriate” behavior? Or maybe that same system cannot trust itself to instill the higher value? Why arrest young people when they are never trained in appropriate values? The parents are responsible for teaching and training a child in the way that he should go!

Kevin

March 31st, 2010
6:24 pm

Hey RJ- if you watch the news, it could be argued that rape and murder are part of today’s culture as well. Under your logic, we should ignore those as well. A crime is a crime. That’s the purpose of laws.

Yes, he should have been found guilty.

midtownguy

March 31st, 2010
6:37 pm

This should have been handled by the students parents. The fact that they would need 100% full-time supervision by a teacher to be assured that they would not put on a sex show is a reflection of the parents, not the teacher. He clearly is an inappropriate education. He should have been in charge of that situation. Fire him, remove his teaching credentials so he cannot teach elsewhere and move on. But allowing your child to behave like this is the true shame. Hell would not have held the fury my parents would have rained down on me.

Bob

March 31st, 2010
6:45 pm

As a DeKalb County resident (who pays a lot of property taxes), I am outraged that my money was used to prosecute this. This is a stupid prosecutorial decision.

midtownguy

March 31st, 2010
6:46 pm

And one more thing. Have you seen the YouTube videos of the Southwest DeKalb Dancing Divas? If the boys are prosecuted or punished in any way, those girls should be too. Their “dancing” is obviously sanctioned by the school. Any it is way beyond vulgar and inappropriate for teenage girls. All that is missing is the stripper pole.

ginn

March 31st, 2010
6:50 pm

Vendetta. He should have been fired, teens suspended and severly disciplined but criminal charges ??? No. Parents, step up and watch, teach and ensure as best you can what these kids listen to and watch on tv. Our kids today have the wrong role models, rappers, sports figures and sad to say even some of the people in the pulpits. Morality gone wild or none at all.

Snafu

March 31st, 2010
6:51 pm

Once again, it shows how the level of stupidity in Georgia. There was no assault and the teacher was fired because students were dancing..WOW! There was no report of anyone being assaulted yet these MORONS in Georgia are spending tax payers money on such ridiculousness. This a..s..s. backwards state fails to surprise me. Never mind that just about every da.m.n tv show has some sexual connotation or some da..mn news is reporting on some sex crime. Well, where do these children learn these things….hummm…parents maybe and the rest of the braindead society who seem so fascinated with sex or sexual acts?
And really, do you think these young males and females are not having sex, or do this outside of the school? Dream on bible “hypocrite” thumpers…Georgia the bible belt..LOL..it needs a chastity belt! The MORONS of GEORGIA!

Ian

March 31st, 2010
7:02 pm

In more than half a century of living, I have never seen a person found innocent. The verdict is not guilty, meaning the state has not met its burden of proof, not that the person is innocent.

It appeared the man was guilty of being a less than stellar teacher, but that isn’t criminal.

Wizard

March 31st, 2010
7:03 pm

Yes, go to Florida, on spring break if you want to see some freak stuff, And they are not black students.

Elliot

March 31st, 2010
7:17 pm

This teacher has a future as recruiter for the Republican National Committee. Striptease and simulated sex are an important recruiting tool for the party of family values.

midtownguy

March 31st, 2010
7:20 pm

What those boys did is no worse that what the SW Dekalb “Dancing DIvas” do on a football field.

Concerned Taxpayer

March 31st, 2010
7:39 pm

I’m not saying what the teacher did was not morally wrong but the prosecutor James needs to stop wasting taxpayer money on trials and matters that don’t belong in the criminal system. Why not spend time and effort being tough on domestic violence cases instead of letting those people get away with pretrial diversion?

Prosecute

March 31st, 2010
8:40 pm

Let’s hope someone is as diligent when it comes to prosecuting Pope, Lewis and company, if there is evidence of criminal activity.

Prosecute

March 31st, 2010
8:54 pm

They prosecute crackheads. They prosecute methheads. Prosecute the eraserheads and their suppliers.

Concern Individual

March 31st, 2010
8:58 pm

Once again, the taxpayer’s money has been used for an unfounded charged in court in lieu of providing the children of Dekalb County a proper education regardless of geographic location. For the last two weeks Dekalb School Board has been singing or playing to the violin to the tune that “We don’t have the funds to maintain all the schools and that at least 4 schools are going to close resulting in children enduring larger classrooms, transportation travel time expanded, school lunches will evidentual fall below the requirement due to lack of…, and forfeit of learning. Notice I stated: (1) At least 4 schools due to next year we the public will we hearing a repeat of this year that will result in a least 2 schools if you are lucky. (2)Expanded travel time means that if some adults get fatigue on short rides imagine how our elementary children are going to feel that results in too tired to learn. (3) Without the parents being able to monitor the school’s lunches, they will be deprived of knowing if their children are eating properly. The Department of Argiculture ensures that their is suficient food, no student should have to eat left overs, or be denied to eat due to insufficient funds. How many parents was aware of that information? UH. (4) Just for record, larger classrooms means a decrease in learning time due to the procedure that takes place prior to learning. (i.e. roll call, gaining control over students, etc). Now, this is where your money needed to go in EDUCATION. BY THE WAY, DOES ANYONE KNOW THE COST OF THIS CASE THAT WAS SPENT BY THE TAXPAYERS? YOU HAVE THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT TO USE AT YOUR DISPOSAL.

You would care...

April 1st, 2010
7:07 am

Taxpayers of DeKalb, if my child was groped by one of these boys, Bet your bottom dollar I would want this prosecuted. As a taxpayer in DeKalb.

CONSERVATIVE

April 1st, 2010
7:55 am

IT IS NO WONDER WHY TODAY’s highschool kids are so,,,,so,,,so ignorant of MATH….READING…….& History…

CONSERVATIVE

April 1st, 2010
7:56 am

DANCERS in highschool………WHAT AN UTTER WASTE OF TAXpayer $$$$$$$$s.

Teacher in DCSS

April 1st, 2010
8:26 am

This guy wants his job back? Please! He should be revoked of his license and not be able to teach anywhere. He may be not guilty, but he violated the PSC Code of Ethics to “do no harm.” If you create the forum for this crap to happen you are held responsible.

Hes getting his Ph.D so he can land a nice cushion job somewhere else.

drew (former teacher)

April 1st, 2010
9:46 am

Just based on Griggs comments, he definitely needed to be fired. The lies and excuses he’s tossed out since his firing are a testimony to his lack of character. The prosecution was simply a waste of time and taxpayers’ money.

And as more schools try to accommodate the “culture” of today’s youth, the further we’ll get from an environment that’s necessary to educate young people. The LAST thing young people need is to have their popular culture supported/reinforced in school…they get boatloads of that OUTSIDE of the classroom. They need to be exposed to something they don’t get outside of school…a culture of discipline and learning and respect. Young people always have, and always will, push the limits, but that doesn’t mean schools have to tolerate it. As a matter of fact, back in the day they did NOT tolerate it. School used to be the place where adults exposed kids to a different (and better?) culture. Schools used to be the one place (other than church…and court) where young people were expected to be respectful. But this is slowly fading, as “kinder and gentler” administrators and teachers choose to be friends and enablers of students, as opposed to adults, demanding discipline, respect and responsibility.

I would go so far as to say that one of the more important missions of schooling is to combat the negative influence of popular culture, and promote a culture of discipline, responsibility, respect, and learning. But it appears that most of those involved in education just don’t have the backbone to fight that battle.

Fan

April 1st, 2010
10:47 am

Sometimes kids act inappropriately. According to the students, when the teacher noticed inappropriate activity he stopped them, told them it was unacceptable, and moved on. Teachers use their discretion when applying dicipline all the time. Their focus is instruction.

If the school system disagreed with the decision, counsel him. If he is a persistent issue, follow procedure and terminate for (a legitimate) cause. Criminal prosecution was way over the top and a waste of everyone’s time and money.

The prosecutors and courts are complaining about a lack of funds to jail violent criminals yet they waste their money on this crap. Was Grigsby a threat to the community? No. Everyone says that until this event occurred he was a credit to the school and the school system. How stupid can we be? Do you know how hard it is to find black males to teach in public school and be role models?

This mans career is shot because of some over zelous prosecutor who had free time on his hands. There’s the crime.

Ashley Nicole

April 1st, 2010
11:26 am

this is exactly why georgia ranks at the very bottom in education, i graduated from high school 35 years ago , i thought the education system had gotten better , chippendale and high school should’nt even be used in the same sentence . if i had kids they would go to a real highschool preferably not in the usa we really cheapen the quality of education in this country. just because you are computer litterate and tech savvy doesn’t make you worthy of being high school student to the contrary it shows just how ignorance can always be bliss instead of open-mic , why don’t they open a book or visit a historical site. fifty years ago it was virtually impossible for young black teenagers to get an education especially in the south , so it seems stripping and gyrating has become the norm in this highschool,what a pity Martin Luther King Jr. would be digusted and so would most parents of that generation.

Ashley Nicole

April 1st, 2010
11:29 am

Enter your comments here

Mobfigure

April 1st, 2010
11:50 am

I think it is hypocritical for Mr. Grisby to be fired for an inappropriate act his students engaged in without his permission and his knowledge. This is another example of the compelling corruption prevalent in the the Office of Internal Affairs (Ronald Ramsey) and the Dekalb County School District. How ironic is it that the Dekalb County school district’s expert witness is Mr. Eric Kemp. Mr. Kemp was investigated for hitting a student in the head with a two way radio when he was an Assistant Principal at Stephenson High School. Mr. Kemp was found guilty by the Professional Standards Commission and he he is currently appealing his sanctions. As a result of Mr. Kemp’s affiliations, he is still employed by the Dekalb County School District. The Dekalb County School District will release information regarding Mr. Kemp’s personnel file if an appropriate Open Records Request is filed.

Corliss

April 1st, 2010
1:35 pm

Where by chance are the REAL African-American men in leadership now? “Mr.” Grigsby is just another example of the cowardice,(boys actually nicknamed “dancing divas?”) permissive, “they’re not hurting anybody” mentality that has completely devolved and permeated most public school systems which completely absolves accountability from teachers, administrators AND students. Sometimes wrong is just wrong and because young people are doing it doesen’t make it cute. “Mr.” Grigsby should have his certificate pulled and never be allowed to teach/steward young people ever again.This was a planned act by those students and there’s no telling if Grigsby signed off on it or not but I seriously doubt this was the first time something like this has ever been done under his watch. That “dance” should have been stopped after 5 seconds(certainly not 68). And NO, a weak, pathetic attempt to juxtapose this garbage to what White kids do just dosen’t cut it either. Frankly, WHO CARES?? I thought we as A-As had moral compasses of our own. Like I said this was wrong then & in the future as well. Next time, hire some people with a drop or two of spinal fluid, it could go a long way.

Sad Times

April 1st, 2010
2:34 pm

Mr. Grigsby failed in so many ways as an educator. For those brief hours, he is responsible for those “kids”. After all that dancing he still didn’t know what was going on in the class? Good thing someone didn’t have a gun or break out in a fight because he would still be clueless. He is not the type of person I would intrust to watch my kids much less a stray dog in the neighborhood. He and his pack of fools make our community look back. In the words of Precious, “them crackheads give the ghetto a bad name”. Funny how they cried “Thank you Lord” after the “jury” (if we can call them that)read not guilty. What are we thanking the Lord for?…for nasty dances being allowed in our classrooms? Or for a terrible teacher getting off scott free. I say “good job” for somebody besides myself realizing that this type of behavior has no place in school. Grigsby- go home.

Timber

April 1st, 2010
5:24 pm

Enter your comments here

Timber

April 1st, 2010
5:28 pm

The jury did the right thing–no laws were broken. DA’s office should have to pay Grigsby’s legal bill.

He worked at the pleasure of the DeKalb BOE, it was their right to fire him.

Just nasty kids

April 3rd, 2010
5:14 pm

Really, who can control these kids? Someone should prosecute their parents.

“Patterson admitted that the dancing was provocative, but said that it was normal activity at the school.

“That is customary and usual activity at Southwest DeKalb, ” Patterson said. “This is what the kids do daily, weekly, monthly at Southwest DeKalb.”

So true – check out this old video by the SW DeKalb Drum Majors sweetly entitled, “Bi*ch You Ride the MARTA Bus!” (Such little darlings!)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vQTuYo6HmiQ