Pine Creek High theater students protest removal of director, dialogue from spring musical

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (The Gazette/KKTV) - Pine Creek High School students on Monday protested last week's removal of the director of the school's award-winning theater program - reportedly over allegations of sexual misconduct.

FILE - Director Carrie Barnhardt-Roberson talks to the cast and crew Wednesday, April 3, 2013, before the final dress rehearsal for Pine Creek High School's production of Les Miserables. (The Gazette, Christian Murdock)

Students also object to "censorship" of the musical revue set to make its debut in 10 days.

Some of the cast and crew of "Echo of Love," slated to run March 15-17, staged a sit-in Monday, refusing to rehearse after school and instead sitting on the stage with tape over their mouths.

"It's pretty disheartening that we have an administration that doesn't support a person we all look up to," said Tatum Graf, a senior who a lead role. "It's also a huge call to action because something has to be done. Something has to change."

Theater Director Carrie Barnhardt-Roberson has not returned to her job since Feb. 27, when Colorado Springs police began investigating accusations that she had an inappropriate relationship with a student, say students and parents.

"We are following the proper protocols, both internally and with local law enforcement, to better understand the facts of this situation," Academy School District 20 spokeswoman Allison Cortez said in a statement. Because it is a personnel matter, Cortez said, she could not "disclose any details of the situation."

The investigation remains active, said police spokesman Lt. Howard Black, who would not provide more information.

A 17-year-old senior who says he is a subject of the investigation, denies having had any improper dealings with Barnhardt-Roberson.

"It was disgusting. I was not prepared for that to even be a thought in anyone's mind," The teen told The Gazette. "It's malicious."

The student emailed students and parents early Monday, saying police asked him in an interview last week about having "an inappropriate sexual relationship" with the teacher.

"These accusations have no validity and were falsified by someone who has the intention of ruining the theater program BR has worked tirelessly to build, BR's reputation and BR's life," the student wrote. Students call Barnhardt-Roberson "BR" for short.

The student said he doesn't know who made the accusations.

Barnhardt-Roberson, who won Colorado Theater Educator of the Year in 2008, did not respond to calls Monday.

Click here to read the full article by 11 News partner The Gazette.

The following statement was provided to 11 News by District 20 regarding the theater director:
“We are following the proper protocols, both internally and with local law enforcement, to better understand the facts of this situation. We can verify Carrie Barnhardt-Roberson is the theatre director at Pine Creek High School. However, because this is both a district personnel matter and an ongoing investigation with the Colorado Springs Police Department, we cannot disclose any details of the situation.”