Former students and parents are defending a local teacher who appears in a controversial photo.
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"[He] is amazing, caring, warm
just above and beyond what you expect from a teacher," said former student, Jennifer Cooke.
Those are the words being used to describe the man in a controversial photo, drama teacher Bill Doyle. The photo appears to show Doyle about to be spanked by a student.
"Bill Doyle believed in me before I believed in myself," said former student Kristine Vandenberg.
Doyle is a two-time former Teacher of the Year at the San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts.
"This man, the way he can take teenage energy and focus that into something positive and creative and imaginative is unbelievable," said former student Joe Bettles.
More than a dozen of his supporters met with 10News on Thursday to defend the teacher they say is being wrongly portrayed.
"He's the kind of teacher you pray your child will have," said parent Lynn Eldred.
Earlier this month, 10News aired a story about Doyle after a parent complained about the spanking photo posted on Facebook. Another photo appears to show Doyle with a student on his lap. The parent complained that the behavior was inappropriate.
Eldred, who has a doctorate in educational leadership, told 10News it is not a big deal.
"I mean, it's a theater school," said Eldred. "People clown. People pretend
and I didn't look at that picture and think anything was going on that was inappropriate."
Since the 10News story aired, Bettles started the "Better Because Of Bill" campaign online.
"When we heard the story, I personally felt like it was time to repay a debt of gratitude that I owed this man," he said.
In less than one week, more than 700 people liked the page, including people from as far away as South Africa.
Bettles, who is a recent UCLA graduate, flew in from the Bay Area to speak in person with 10News about Doyle.
"If you know this man, you know what a positive and permanent impact he has to this day," he said
His supporters say the picture was taken out of context. They say he was more than just a teacher and should not be judged by the photo.
10News contacted the San Diego Unified School District which has completed their investigation into the photos. They will not share their findings but said Doyle will remain in the classroom.
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