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Teacher loses his job for going 'Full Monty'
Herald Tribune ^ | March 10, 2007 | Jay Handelman

Posted on 03/13/2007 8:34:41 AM PDT by summer

A Lemon Bay High School music teacher would rather give up his day job than stop stripping at night in the musical "The Full Monty" at the Venice Little Theatre.

Jason Brenner, who is in his third year as a part-time music teacher at the Englewood high school, said Lemon Bay administrators gave him a letter Thursday that offered him three options: "stop doing the show; continue the show but take yourself out of the last scene so that you're not naked on stage, or continue doing the show at full capacity but hand in a letter of resignation."

Brenner went on with the show Thursday night and plans to continue with the amateur theater production through its closing performance on March 18. He doesn't get paid for the show, which has been running for more than two weeks.

"We kind of hold our teachers to a higher moral standard than, say, someone who works for Comcast may or even the newspaper, because we're dealing with our children every day," said Mike Riley, public information officer for the Charlotte County School District.

Riley said the decision was made because of "information we received that he is nude in this play. In public schools, public nudity does not fit in, where they're coming around children."

Riley said he was not aware if any school officials saw the show before making the decision. "When he reveals that he's nude in public to his supervisor, that's the word we're going on."

In the musical, based on the British film hit, Brenner plays Dave Bukatinsky, one of several out-of-work steel workers in Buffalo, N.Y., who strip for a night to raise money to help support their families...

(Excerpt) Read more at ...

TOPICS: News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: florida; nudity; publicschools; teachers
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From article: "The Full Monty" has proved to be the most successful show in the history of Venice Little Theatre. On Thursday, it topped the all-time sales totals, and it is expected to eventually surpass attendance records before it closes.
1 posted on 03/13/2007 8:34:46 AM PDT by summer
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To: All

FYI. Interesting article...

2 posted on 03/13/2007 8:36:19 AM PDT by summer
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To: summer

3 posted on 03/13/2007 8:38:18 AM PDT by Calpernia (
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To: summer

My high school history teacher worked in a men's topless bar - the waiters were all men and topless wearing only a collar and cuffs - popular in the 1970's.

4 posted on 03/13/2007 8:39:45 AM PDT by edcoil (Reality doesn't say much - doesn't need too)
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To: All
March 13, 2007 - From a local columnist, Eric Ernst:
'Full Monty' firing threat makes us a laughingstock

Even with our clothes on, we're laughed at

Jason Brenner didn't moon anyone at Burger King. He didn't expose himself at Caspersen Beach. All he did was play a role in Venice Little Theatre's production of "The Full Monty."

Now he may lose his job as a part-time music teacher at Lemon Bay High School where last week he received an ultimatum: Quit the show or you're fired.

Why? "We received (information) that he is nude in this play," said Charlotte County school district spokesman Mike Riley.

May we have a little context, please? "The Full Monty" is a comedy with a pinch of satire, drama and farce. It's all about six out-of-shape, out-of-work, regular guys from Buffalo who try a strip routine to make some money.

The play mirrors the internationally popular movie. It's about friendship, not nudity. It's meant to be entertaining, cleverly suggestive, not overbearing. The director says the audience sees a bare bottom for about two seconds on a backlit stage.

Hello!?! It's not real life. It's theater. It's art.

Maybe one of the problems with education these days lies in the inability of the people running things to navigate these types of nuances, although this one seems to be pretty obvious.

And Brenner's performance in the play really has nothing to do with his day job other than to complement his work with high school musical productions, such as the ongoing "Cats."

Of course, news of this incident spread quickly on the Internet, making all of us look like backwater hicks.

On, Photometric wrote, "Either the administration was already looking for an excuse to fire this guy, or they were placating some pain-in-the-ass busybody parent who constantly harangues the school over every little thing. What an insipid action. I hope he gets a better job at a better school."

Riley, who as the messenger should not be shot, dismissed the firing threat with, "We kind of hold our teachers to a higher moral standard than, say, someone who works for Comcast … because we're dealing with our children every day."

Most of us would probably agree with that statement, although a firing offense germinating from private life would have to be clear-cut. This doesn't even come close.

Googlejuice, another contributor, had a nice line: "Fired for the suggestion of nudity."

To which we might add, fired on hearsay, because his bosses, Brenner says, have not actually seen "The Full Monty," or at least not the play. A labor attorney ought to love this one, which should worry all of us because if Brenner prevails in a lawsuit -- he has not threatened one -- the money would come from our pockets.

Brenner is scheduled to meet with Assistant Superintendent Doug Whittaker Thursday to discuss his situation.

Although Brenner [a part-time teacher] is not a member of the teachers union, and therefore not subject to its protection, this is a potentially bad precedent for his peers.

The teacher contract states, "The private and personal life of an employee is not the appropriate concern of the (School) Board except to the extent it may interfere with his/her responsibilities and effectiveness with students, parents, and/or a school." The administration has left a big loophole for butting in, but it's one that should not be invoked lightly.

If teachers cannot, in their private lives, do anything that would make anyone else feel uncomfortable, then we'd better prepare ourselves for a greater teacher shortage than we've already acknowledged.

Our educational system does not need secret morality police tracking the actions of teachers for us. If teachers are not doing anything illegal, and if their off-hour activities do not affect their classroom time, then it's none of our business.

In Brenner's case, he participated in an artistic production whose record-setting popularity indicates it falls well within the moral standards of the community. He did nothing to embarrass himself or anyone else.

Unfortunately, we cannot say as much for our school administration.
5 posted on 03/13/2007 8:43:26 AM PDT by summer
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To: Calpernia

Thanks! :)

6 posted on 03/13/2007 8:43:53 AM PDT by summer
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To: edcoil

Yeah - I'm thinking of that FL married, blonde reading teacher (female) who repeatedly had sex with a student -- and then got off scott free because of whatever. Someone like her should be of more concern to school officials than this guy.

7 posted on 03/13/2007 8:45:14 AM PDT by summer
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To: edcoil

I probably could have phrased that better (above), but - you know what I mean!

8 posted on 03/13/2007 8:49:34 AM PDT by summer
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To: summer

Hey, hold on now. An attractive female blonde teacher is a whole 'nother story completely, with a different set of rules.

9 posted on 03/13/2007 9:21:56 AM PDT by -=SoylentSquirrel=-
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To: summer

Ok, so this is an unpaid two week show, right?

And this guy gives up a full time job for it?

He must really want to wave the flag.

10 posted on 03/13/2007 9:34:40 AM PDT by Columbine
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To: summer

He's on his own time. The show is not an illegal activity. The school and the show have no legal relationship with each other. How can the school claim the right to control this legal activity of his?

If he was a smoker, and he posed for prominent local billboard ads for a cigarette company, could the school fire him for the "bad image" his students could readily see him in?

Are they actually afraid some student, having seen him in the play will be sitting in class undressing him in her daydreams?

If they have the right to fire this teacher, do they have a comparable right to suspend a student who goes to see the play?

How is the private (not on school time) rights and freedoms of either students or the teacher brought under the control of the school in this way?

11 posted on 03/13/2007 10:26:10 AM PDT by Wuli
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To: Wuli

Morals dont stop at the school house door. Teachers should be role models, like others in authority positions. We certainly dont always live up to that, but at least we should try. Excusing this type of behavior because it really doesnt mean anything just lowers the bar once again.

12 posted on 03/13/2007 10:30:58 AM PDT by Bulldawg Fan
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To: Bulldawg Fan

"Excusing this type of behavior because it really doesn't mean anything just lowers the bar once again."

The question is not your or my "moral" view of his role in the play. The question is legal and his legal rights.

Right now we have a school in Lexington Massachusetts that believes it has a legal obligation to teach 3rd graders the moral view that it is O.K. to be gay (using a book in which a young prince has a boyfriend not a princess). They use the same language you do, about their right to teach a "moral" view and, more than you, they reinforce that language with the fact that the actions of the young prince have been declared legal in Massachusetts, so in addition to teaching their own civic moral view they are defending what the law allows.

I think both you and they are wrong.

I think the school, as an academic institution and not a religious institution must be, most of the time, agnostic on civic moral issues. I oppose their view on the same basis I oppose yours.

While the activity is "legal", the fact that it is legal, that it is allowed, is only a statement that one has the legal right to that activity. The fact that it is permitted is not a statement that others cannot have the opinion that it is morally wrong. Smoking is legal, but most people oppose it morally. Adultery is rarely prosecuted as a crime in itself, but most people agree it is immoral. We have many things that our legal freedoms permit us to do, but we have separate, and diverse moral views about many of them.

When legal rights and standards include rights and freedoms for which the whole of society has strong differences of the moral view of those freedoms, the school must be agnostic on a moral view of them. If it is not then it must chose (and it will, just as the school in Lexington Mass did) whatever standard of "moral" that it wants, and it will thank you for granting it the right to do so.

I do not accept the statist idea that our public schools should be granted the role of the center of our child's moral and social universe. To do so replaces "the state" for what the founders saw as "the society", which included Church and family and other free associations beyond academia, and which respected the moral role of those institutions, outside of academia.

No, the school must be agnostic most of the time, if it is not a private or religious school. It is dangerous for all of our religions otherwise, because otherwise it will chose one or it will condemn them all for its own secular humanist view.

13 posted on 03/13/2007 11:23:58 AM PDT by Wuli
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To: Wuli

Allowing a teacher to moonlight showing his butt and more and then teach class during the day lowers the bar.

14 posted on 03/13/2007 2:14:24 PM PDT by Bulldawg Fan
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To: Bulldawg Fan
In a way, I'm sympathetic to what you're saying, but you also have to take into account how the community itself feels about this show. No one is protesting it - it's a sold out run. The tush-nudity goes on for about 2 seconds and it's a bunch of guys, not just one. Also, they're not even making any money from being in this show! (It's community theater.)

I do have a problem when you hear about these female teachers posing almost nude for Playboy and the like, getting gobs of cash, in some pictoral about teachers, in a print publication widely available. I think that does lower the bar.

Interestingly, the "moral clauses" found in some celebrity contracts for promoting/advertising certain products (for an advertiser like, say Johnson & Johnson) is often a MUCH higher bar than what is found in most teacher contracts.
15 posted on 03/13/2007 2:43:55 PM PDT by summer
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To: Columbine
His teaching job is officially "ppart-time." But, now he's in national news on AP, as posted on msnbc:

Teacher stands up for right to bare his bottom
Off-hours role in ‘Full Monty’ exposes divide between district and instructor
16 posted on 03/14/2007 9:50:38 AM PDT by summer
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To: summer

Fire all plumbers!
17 posted on 03/14/2007 11:12:04 AM PDT by Liberty Valance (
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To: Bulldawg Fan; Wuli

I'm sympathetic to you dawgfan, but I'm in Wuli's camp. If this were about a porn flick or working in a strip club, it would be a different story. Just my opinion, but the bureaucrats went too far on this one.

18 posted on 03/14/2007 11:41:55 AM PDT by Night Hides Not (Chuck Hagel makes Joe Biden look like a statesman!)
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To: Bulldawg Fan

You and I may agree on the moral side of that. And I would have no problem with a religious or private school setting such a religious or private standard.

On the legal side, as a "government" employee in a "public" school, if his acts are not illegal I don't want to give the school the right to think they are our children's moral police on matters that (1)are not illegal and (2)of which there is a diversity of moral views.

Because, at the same moment I give them the right to oust this teacher, the logic of the legal argument to do so gives the "right" the Lexington Mass grade school to teach 3rd graders that its "O.K." to be gay, on the same argument as yours that they are simply teaching a "public moral" point of view and they ground that position in the fact that Massachusetts law says its O.K.

My legal view is that the government school, the "public" school must be agnostic (not preaching for or against) on MOST "moral" matters, outside of behavioral matters in the school, or "illegal" behavioral matters in or out of the school, by students or teachers.

I understand your "lowers the bar" position on his very legal actions. My concern is that your solution "lowers the bar", in the law, in granting government schools, public schools the right to place their moral view ahead of the parents, in matters in which there are diverse moral views.

19 posted on 03/14/2007 12:53:40 PM PDT by Wuli
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To: Night Hides Not; bulldawg

I am sympathetic to bulldawg as well.

I understand and appreciate his moral point of view.

But, I see how the legal concept of granting schools the right that bulldawg seeks, because it can produce the result he seeks, validates the law for schools to, by the same rationale, produce results which neither bulldawg, you or I want to support.

People should really read public writings and recorded statements of SCOTUS Justice Scalia. He writes and speaks so clearly about the law, about protecting the law and its constitutional foundations instead of subverting it, only because, by twisting it to our purpose we like the result we can obtain by doing so.

He constantly demonstrates how that activism becomes precedents that turn around to bite us in the end.

He constantly demonstrates how the activist seeking of results as a higher calling than maintaining the constitutional foundation and structure we have been given , almost always winds up diminishing our rights in the long run; no matter what benevolent purpose for which we let or constitutional standard slip, at first.

20 posted on 03/14/2007 1:13:00 PM PDT by Wuli
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