A Long Island middle school teacher says he was forced to resign after he appeared on TV as a reality show extra in an episode where he peels off his shirt and frolics with women in a swimming pool.
Stefan Serie, 30, says he had to resign from Merrick Avenue Middle School last month because of the appearance on "Princesses: Long Island," a Bravo show.
Parents and students rallied before a board district meeting Wednesday, urging the school to reinstate Serie.
"He's a really good coach and teacher," said Rayven Flanks, a blind ninth-grader who says Serie urged him to stick with the school's wrestling team. "He has encouraged me over the years in wrestling and in general life to never give up on my dreams."
Serie got a letter a week after the June 2 episode aired, telling him he had to report to the school district office.
He was urged to resign, he says.
"They rescinded my tenure, took it away, and said if I do not give them a resignation letter in two days, that I would not receive unemployment benefits," said Serie, who has worked as a teacher for eight years.
His lawyer, Joseph Lipada, said his client was "never given a coherent reason as to his termination."
Serie said a producer friend approached him about the show. He did not take part in the drinking or fighting shown in the episode, and had no interest in taping another. He said he regrets going on the show and wants his job back.
The Bellmore-Merrick Central High School District said in a statement that Serie's resignation was accepted on July 9, but declined to discuss further details.
"If you can be fired for taking your shirt off in a pool, then I don't think too many people would have jobs," said Serie.
Parent Jeffrey Fein agreed.
"Whether you agree with the subject matter of the TV show, he still doesn't deserve to lose his job over it," he said at the rally. "He didn't do anything illegal."
Serie and his attorney says they are prepared to file a federal lawsuit to get his job back.