Wando High School teacher Christopher Poston resigns
A Wando High School teacher fired for showing students a sexually explicit video resigned this week, saying he wanted to protect his family, his supporters and the student who complained about him.
Christopher Poston said he had some regrets for showing a clip from "Jackass Number Two" a few weeks ago. And he now hopes to find work as a teacher in Berkeley County, according to his lawyer.
Poston, a 36-year-old sociology teacher, showed a snippet from the R-rated movie while substitute teaching in a Latin class Feb. 14. He told school officials that he turned off the movie when a character wearing a puppet on his penis began provoking a snake.
Poston also admitted showing a class a PowerPoint presentation that included "People of Walmart," an online collection of photos poking fun at shoppers in the discount store.
Charleston County School District officials placed Poston on administrative leave the day after he showed the clips, when a parent complained, and they fired him Feb. 29.
He appealed the decision and continued to receive his full pay and benefits. Poston's attorney requested a public hearing just last week, but school district officials received his resignation letter Thursday.
"My resignation is tendered, in part, to protect my family and the students who have expressed such kind words about me after this event, students that may be harmed by their continued support of me," he wrote. Poston added that he remains confident that he helped students over the years and, at times, "helped them become more responsible and engaged citizens."
He thanked Superintendent Nancy McGinley for the opportunity to teach in Charleston County and wrote that Tuesday would be his final work day.
Poston's attorney, Jay Masty, said the date only reflects the time needed for paperwork. Masty said his client hopes to stay in Charleston and to return to teaching as soon as possible.
"Truly, his thought was that a continued appeal would have been bad for students supporting him and bad for the student who complained," Masty said. "I think if he had been fired, it would have killed his career."
More than 2,000 supporters signed a petition to save Poston's job, and Masty said he fielded at least 100 phone calls from people hoping to help. The attorney said Poston saw the "Jackass" scenes as "a teaching opportunity."
Masty said Poston served as a glorified "baby sitter" while substitute teaching in a Latin class that day, since Poston doesn't understand Latin.
"He wanted to convert that into a teaching situation," Masty said. "He thought the film might bring up some sociology situations, and here we are."
The parent who complained said the situation didn't play out quite that way. The woman, who asked not to be identified, said Poston only turned off the movie when a school district employee entered the classroom.
The mother said her daughter received death threats through social media and still endures whispers and pointing in the hallways. The woman said her family expected to alert authorities quietly to a matter that they could handle just as quietly -- without a petition or weeks of media attention.
"We did not try to get him fired," she said. The mother also questioned people asking for a slap on the wrist for a first offense.
"How does anybody know it wasn't his second or third chance?" she asked.
The Post and Courier filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the school district Thursday, seeking Poston's personnel records. Officials can take as long as 15 days to respond to such a request.
Poston, a married father of four girls, coached cross country and track and helped with student council. He also founded and directed the Buddy Olympics, a program that pairs special-needs children with Wando High students, and the Buddy Project, a program that pairs Wando students with students from high-poverty schools.
The Citadel graduate previously taught at Alice Birney Middle and Garrett Academy before transferring to Wando High in 2006.
School officials said he violated three policies in the "Jackass" episode: acceptable use of technology, employee conduct and employee conduct with students.
Reach Allyson Bird at 937-5594 or on Twitter at @allysonjbird.