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Mo. Drama Teacher Resigns Over Play Flap

March 18, 2006

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) _ A central Missouri high school drama teacher whose spring play was canceled after complaints about tawdry content in one of her previous productions will resign rather than face a possible firing.

``It became too much to not be able to speak my mind or defend my students without fear or retribution,″ said Fulton High School teacher Wendy DeVore.

DeVore’s students were to perform Arthur Miller’s ``The Crucible,″ a drama set during the 17th Century Salem witch trials.

But after a handful of Callaway Christian Church members complained about scenes in the fall musical ``Grease″ that showed teens smoking, drinking and kissing, Superintendent Mark Enderle told DeVore to find a more family-friendly substitute.

DeVore chose Shakespeare’s ``A Midsummer Night’s Dream,″ a classic romantic comedy with its own dicey subject matter, including suicide, rape and losing one’s virginity.

DeVore, 31, a six-year veteran teacher, said administrators told her that her annual contract might not be renewed.

``Maybe I need to find a school that’s a better match,″ she said.

Both Enderle and the high school principal declined to discuss DeVore’s resignation, citing privacy concerns. The resignation must still be approved by the school board.

Publicity over the drama debate, including a front-page story in The New York Times, has cast an unflattering light on Fulton as an intolerant small town, several of DeVore’s colleagues said.

``We have become a laughingstock,″ teacher Paula Fessler told The Fulton Sun.

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