Already named as the 2011-2012 teacher of the year, Vineland educator Mark Bringhurst was looking to continue his winning streak this year.
But it was a streak of a different kind that not only cut that pursuit short, but also cost him his job.
Photo Credit: The Daily Journal
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Bringhurst, 40, of Berlin, taught at Winslow Elementary School for nearly eight years, according to the Daily Journal.
Bringhurst was so well-respected for his teaching abilities, that he was selected as the school’s 2011-2012 teacher of the year. But one apparent game of truth or dare forever tainted his previously flawless reputation.
On the night of March 21, police say Bringhurst ran through the parking lot of the Greenway Village Apartment Complex while naked. Witnesses called police because children were in the area and they were concerned for their safety, according to the Daily Journal. One witness also claimed it wasn’t the first time he had seen Bringhurst streaking through the lot.
Police told the Daily Journal they later tracked Bringhurst down outside an adult bookstore on Route 73. While he initially denied streaking that night, Bringhurst later admitted to it, according to police.
The Daily Journal reports Bringhurst told police he met someone online who dared him to do it. Police also say Bringhurst claimed he had also ran through the same parking lot while naked a year earlier. The Daily Journal reports Bringhurst apologized for his actions but claimed he never intended for anyone to see him.
Bringhurst was arrested and charged with lewdness. Shortly after his arrest, Winslow Elementary School suspended him with pay before suspending him without pay pending arbitration, according to the Daily Journal.
Bringhurst’s suspension prompted a lengthy fight between him and the school district. The Daily Journal reports Bringhurst requested to be reinstated, claiming he was cooperative with the investigation and immediately went to a pastor and a counselor for help after his arrest.
Vineland School Superintendent Mary Gruccio claimed the district demanded his dismissal however because “his behavior cannot be tolerated by the Vineland public school district,” according to the Daily Journal.
The lewdness charge against Bringhurst was amended to “acting in an improper manner,” on July 12, to which he pleaded guilty. Despite arguments from his attorney citing his teaching record and the fact that there was no state law requiring he be fired, on August 8 the Board of Education voted that the charges against Bringhurst warranted pursuing his dismissal, according to the Daily Journal. The Daily Journal reports the district then filed the written tenure charges against Bringhurst with the state Education Department two weeks later and the teacher was officially dismissed.
NBC10 attempted to contact Bringhurst for comment but he refused to talk.