Mark C. Bringhurst, a teacher from Vineland, New Jersey, who was caught running naked around an apartment complex because of a dare has lost his job. His tenure case was the first under a new law created to reduce the amount of time a tenure case should take to resolve. In the past, the cases would last anywhere from one to two years.
The new procedure took just four months from the time he was charged, according to the Press of Atlantic City. Bringhurst was a teacher at the Winslow School in Vineland for eight years and was the Teacher of the Year in 2011-12. He was a fifth-grade teacher.
Bringhurst was arrested on March 21 by police officers in Berlin Township, Camden County, and charged with lewdness. He was seen running naked around the Greenway Apartments parking lot. Bringhurst told officers that this was the second time he committed the act, both because of a dare, but did not expect to get caught.
Municipal court heard the case and the charges were changed in July to “acting in an improper manner” and Bringhurst pled guilty. On June 27, Bringhurst was told by the Vineland School District that tenure charges would be filed in front of the board of education. On August 8, the charges were approved and on August 21, the district filed the charges with the state’s education commissioner.
On September 13, arbitrator Robert C. Gifford heard the issue and a hearing was held on October 18 in Vineland. Gifford said in his decision that Bringhurst showed poor judgment on multiple occasions and his lack of judgment was not reduced even though the issue occurred outside of school. The decision was posted on the website for the Department of Education on December 5.
“The respondent’s actions are simply not consistent with the conduct that a fifth-grade elementary teacher must display, whether in or out of the classroom,” Gifford wrote. Gifford said that the penalty of dismissal was justifiable.
Bringhurst’s license or chances to teach elsewhere are not affected by the decision from the arbitrator. The state’s Board of Examiners will decide on revoking his license. Robert Bowman, the attorney for Bringhurst, said that could not offer a comment on the issue, but did discuss the tenure process.
“It brought resolution in a timely manner,” he said.
A spokesman for the NJEA, Steve Baker, said that the cases going through the new system are being watched.
“So far it seems that it is working as it is supposed to,” he said. “But it is too early to make a final judgment.”