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.