WINNIPEG — A pair of Manitoba high school teachers whose enthusiasm at a pep rally morphed into a mock lap dance that became an Internet sensation are now out of jobs.
Jackie Sneesby, chairwoman of the Winnipeg School Division, said teacher Chrystie Fitchner’s resignation was accepted Monday while the short-term contract for Adeil Ahmed expired and would not be renewed.
Stunned students pulled out their cellphones at Churchill High School in February and captured video of the fully clothed couple as they performed a sexually suggestive bump and grind that included a brief moment of simulated oral sex.
Trustee Mike Babinsky said when the clip was posted to YouTube, there were two millions hits within the first couple of days.
“Howard Stern. Joy Behar from ’The View.’ CNN. Fox Entertainment. TMZ,” said Babinsky, listing off the media mavens who jumped on the story. “I was told it went overseas.”
Sneesby said she wasn’t sure why the two young teachers did what they did.
“Usually it’s because they didn’t think about the outcome or what the consequences would be,” she suggested.
Babinsky said he suspects they just got carried away.
“You see a lot on TV that’s probably even worse than what they did in that dance. So young people, I guess, believe this is OK, this type of conduct. But it’s not. It’s not OK.”
Sneesby said she thinks people from all walks of life can learn a lesson from what happened to the teachers.
“I think we live in a world of YouTube. Everywhere you go and whatever you do, whether you’re a celebrity or in this case even if you’re not a celebrity, anybody can have a camera at any time and take pictures and it’ll end up on YouTube. This is the 21st century and this is part of it, I guess.”
However, Sneesby added that even if the dance had not been caught on video, she’s convinced the pair would have still been in trouble.
“There was enough people there that would have seen it, and enough children telling their parents,” she said, adding that the school division received a lot of phone calls demanding that Fitchner and Ahmed be fired.
Initially they were suspended with pay but were told in early March that their suspensions would be changed to be without pay.
Ahmed’s contract expired last Friday. On Monday, Fitchner agreed to drop a grievance against the school division in exchange for sick leave benefits. Her resignation is effective June 30, but upon the expiry of the sick leave or in the event she is deemed fit to work, she will be placed on unpaid administrative leave until the end of June.
Sneesby said the students who witnessed the incident had a varying range of reactions to it.
“Some kids are more sophisticated than others, and have watched things on TV that are probably inappropriate as well, and others are more protected from this kind of thing,” she said.
“Some of them were shocked, I’m sure, but everybody’s different when it comes to reacting to it.”
“This issue has been tough on everyone. Our staff is our greatest resource, and we know this incident has been tough on all of them, too,” said Sneesby, noting that Fitchner had been at the school for 3 1/2 years while Ahmed was there for less than a year.
“We have 3,000 teachers in the division and they’re wonderful. This isn’t really a reflection on teachers. This is just two individuals.”
But Babinsky had some sympathy for the pair.
“They’re just starting their careers, and a minute-and-a-half of a dance ended up changing their lives.”