Drama Teacher in Trouble for Acting Out at Student Award Ceremony

By Tina Chen

Jun 4, 2014 3:48pm

A Bellingham, Washington, high school drama club teacher issued a public apology and faces an investigation by her district after an edgy end-of-the-year drama club awards ceremony prompted a mother to storm out and email a complaint to a local television station.

“I sat there with my mouth open in shock,” the mother wrote in her email to ABC News Seattle affiliate KOMO. ”The final straw was when a joke was told on stage about a teacher, a lawyer and a priest on a plane. The plane was going down and the teacher says, ‘We have to save the children!’ The attorney says ‘F*** the children!’ And the priest says ‘OOOOH … Do we have time for that???’”

The mother added, “WE need to get the word out there that THIS is the kind of TRASH that is being taught in our schools. I am so shocked right now I am in tears.”

The mother who sent the email demanded disciplinary action against the teacher and said she and her daughter hope to remain anonymous until after graduation on June 6.

KOMO bellingham high school kab 140604 16x9 608 Drama Teacher in Trouble for Acting Out at Student Award Ceremony

Bellingham High School's drama club teacher is under fire for hosting inappropriate end-of-the-year student awards ceremony.

However, the drama teacher, Teri Grimes, 62, issued a formal apology on Tuesday for the Sunday evening event that, according to the mother, included other objectionable material.

“I deeply apologize for some very inappropriate comments and actions made during our drama students’ end-of-the-year awards ceremony,” Grimes wrote in a statement issued by the Bellingham school district. “This is not representative of our students who take such great pride in their school and respect one another. Much of the evening was a great celebration of their work. However, as a teacher and the club’s leader, I take full responsibility and am extremely sorry.”

Grimes did not return a phone call seeking additional comment but, on her Facebook page, referred to a celebration for her “retirement,” perhaps indicating the awards ceremony was her final act.

Jacqueline Brawley, a spokeswoman for the Bellingham Public Schools, told ABC News, “The school district is still investigating the situation.”

In the meantime, school principal Jeff Vaughn was using the incident as a teachable moment for his students and the broader Bellingham High School community.

“I wanted to let you know that [school officials] have met with our drama club adviser and students,” Vaughn said in a written statement to Bellingham High School families and community members. “This has generated media coverage and has been a learning opportunity for our teens regarding the harm that can come from offensive comments and jokes.”

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