January 17, 1996 in Nation/World

Students Defend Porn-Star Teacher Teacher Suspended For Making, Acting In Flicks

Providence Journal-Bulletin
 

“We love Bubba!”

That was the prevailing sentiment at Dennis-Yarmouth Regional High School yesterday, where students defended Robert “Bubba” Walenski, an English teacher placed on paid leave last week after it was discovered he had appeared in pornographic videos.

Students vowed to stage a walkout this morning to pressure school officials to reinstate their beloved teacher and Babe Ruth League baseball coach, who taught two generations of teenagers at the Mid-Cape high school.

The walls of the high school were briefly covered with posters saying “Free Bubba” and “We Love Bubba.”

“Bubba is the only teacher who cares,” said Katie MacDonald, 17, a senior. “We want to be there for him. He’s been there for us.”

Superintendent Michael McCaffrey met with Walenski late Tuesday afternoon, and a decision on the teacher’s fate is expected later today. Under state law, an educator can be fired for conduct unbecoming to a teacher.

“I want to ask him some questions and find out what’s going on,” McCaffrey said before the meeting. “He’ll have a chance to defend himself. I have no intention of violating his rights. My concern is that our teachers be appropriate role models.”

While McCaffrey and several teachers expressed grave concerns about Walenski’s extracurricular activities, students had nothing but praise for a man they dubbed the coolest teacher at D-Y High.”I think it’s mean,” said Heather Gatchell, 16, a junior. “I think they should bring him back. What he does with his own life is his business. He’s not breaking the law.”Walenski was revered because he was hip. He played rock music from the band Pink Floyd, showed the video of Schindler’s List in class and treated teenagers like equals.

The teacher was pulled from his classroom late Friday and placed on administrative leave after one of his X-rated movies was spotted in a Hyannis video store.

“I bought one of the videos,” McCaffrey said. “And I thought it was pretty explicit. Soft-core porn is a very generous word for what I saw.”

Walenski reportedly acted in and produced the movies on the West Coast. There is no indication that students were used in them.

Colleagues were reluctant to judge Walenski, who they characterized as a charismatic and dedicated teacher. But they thought he had cast the school in a bad light.

“I think he should be put in another position where he’s not in contact with kids,” said one teacher who refused to give her name.


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