In December 2008, Southwest DeKalb High School chorus teacher Nathan Grigsby conducted a class in which students performed in front of each other, a la “American Idol.” A trio of male students performed a dance routine to the tune “Meeting In My Bedroom,” wherein they were caught on a cell phone video camera pantomiming sexually suggestive moves.
Since that date, Grigsby has been fired from DeKalb on the grounds of public indecency, and contributing to the deprivation of a minor, misdemeanors for which he will stand trial this week. However, a group of parents of students are standing by the former teacher, who they say shouldn’t take the blame for actions committed by his students. “He was the ideal teacher, he helped children develop, and now that he’s not there, it’s a missing piece of the school community,” said Jassundra Barnett, mother of Jerramy, who is one of the three students who have now been charged with public indecency.
This is a thorny issue — that the “indecent” acts were performed there can be no doubt; there is video evidence to that fact. Grigsby’s lawyer contends that the teacher immediately put a stop to the proceedings when he saw how the students were behaving, but the video apparently shows otherwise. There are also the eyewitness reports who claim that the student body present were all enjoying the spectacle, and that there was no harm done.
However, it is true that a teacher is responsible for what takes place in his classroom, whether or not he is directly involved. Teenagers are constantly pushing their boundaries; it’s how they learn the “rules” of the world. It’s up to their elders to keep them in check. At the same time, the trio’s behavior was simply aping the media content they absorb all the time through television and movies, so the blame should be traced back even farther to its origin. The question ultimately becomes: was Grigsby out of line for allowing the dance to take place, and is it actually a crime?