'Dark Knight' joke could cost prof his job

Aug. 16, 2012 at 2:10 PM
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KINGS POINT, N.Y., Aug. 16 (UPI) -- A teacher at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, N.Y., could be fired for a joke to a class about the Aurora, Colo., shootings, officials say.

As it happened, one of the students in Gregory F. Sullivan's class was the son of one of the 12 people killed in the theater where "The Dark Knight Rises" was being shown, The New York Times reported. That student ran from the room, distraught.

Sullivan planned to step out of the room while his class was watching a documentary, an internal personnel document said. He joked on his way out the door about James E. Holmes, the former University of Colorado graduate student charged with the shootings, who allegedly wore a red Joker-like wig to the theater.

"If someone with orange hair appears in the corner of the room, run for the exit," Sullivan said.

Sullivan, who says he did not realize one of his students was related to a victim, has apologized and made what the personnel document described as a "quick and remorseful admission" of misconduct. The university says he should have known because an e-mail had been sent to everyone affiliated with Kings Point and the student was absent for several days.

Kings Point Academic Dean Shashi Kumar has asked for his dismissal, the Times said.

He said Sullivan's action met the standard of "notoriously disgraceful conduct" set by the school's rules.

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