A newly-uncovered YouTube video shows a well-dressed educator at the front of the stage at a Kentucky high school singing along with a girl in a miniskirt as a choir performs the song “Like A Virgin” at a graduation.
“That’s a bad idea,” said longtime Ben Frank Elementary School teacher and principal Greg Rowley, whose students sang the number.
Later, when he was informed he might be in trouble for his performance, he said, “I was in a position where I had to make a quick decision on whether or not I wanted to make a scene that would reflect poorly on me, and I didn’t want to do that.”
The video, which has been viewed more than 9 million times in four days, shows Rowley smiling and clapping while sitting on the side of the stage during the graduation in 2015.
He can be seen wearing a suit with his collar tucked into his button-down shirt. The video also shows some students speaking and having their hands raised in a gesture some have interpreted as a sexual one.
In the YouTube description, Rowley wrote that students forgot to tell him “I was at their graduation.”
A photo of Rowley was distributed Monday, eliciting a wave of criticism.
“I fully respect students’ freedom of speech,” Rowley said in a written statement released Tuesday. “But what I did was inappropriate and should not have happened.”
“I sincerely apologize to anyone who was offended by my involvement in the ceremony,” Rowley said. “I don’t believe our students, staff or community should have to put up with this level of embarrassment and vulgarity, and neither do I.”
Rowley said he had high expectations for his students and described the video as an example of “the adult’s acting like a child.”
He said he hopes students “will feel able to express themselves and do what’s right under the circumstance.”