A New Jersey teacher with a second career as an actor is losing his day job after an arbitrator concluded that he showed middle-school students a film clip of himself in bed with an actress.
Technology teacher Richard Graffanino denied showing the clip to six eighth-grade girls at River Dell Middle School in River Edge. In a ruling made public Tuesday, a tenure arbitrator said the evidence showed otherwise.
The arbitrator said the scene conveyed the impression that the characters were waking up after having sex and was “clearly inappropriate” for middle school students. A sheet covers the woman just below her bare shoulders and the shirtless Graffanino up to his waist.
“As explained by district officials, eighth-grade students are discovering their sexuality, and they view teachers as role models,” the arbitrator wrote. “Seeing their teacher as an actor in a sexual situation would be confusing and disturbing to the students and would raise many questions.”
Graffanino, who is 39 and who has been a teacher since 2002, told The Record newspaper the girls gave conflicting testimony and the investigation was unfair.
The film “wasn’t pornography or anything,” he said. “It was video on the Internet of me acting.”
Although the evidence showed the students pressured their teacher to show them the clip in February 2013, he should have ended all discussion of the video and referred it to the school administration, the arbitrator said.
Graffanino also was brought up on other tenure charges, one involving comments he made about another teacher.
Graffanino has played a number of roles in film and TV, including small parts on “Law & Order” and “30 Rock,” according to his resume. The clip seen by the students was from a New York University graduate student’s film.