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Students claim teacher has been placed on leave for false accusations

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A theater teacher has been put on leave after students say she's been accused of having an inappropriate sexual relationship with a student.

Academy District 20 won't confirm any of that to News 5, but students from Pine Creek High School are speaking out with their parents by their sides.

A group of theater students, including the boy who says he was accused of being involved, all say these claims are absolutely untrue and unsubstantiated.

They say someone may be anonymously targeting their theater program for pushing the envelope with controversial story lines.

"These claims are totally false and 'BR' would never break the trust of a student," Ryan Maikell, a senior theater student said.

Carrie Barnhardt-Roberson, typically known as 'BR' to her students hasn't been at school since Wednesday of last week.

"They brought up that someone had accused BR and me of having an inappropriate sexual relationship," Maikell said.

17-year-old Ryan Maikell, a senior theater student says he was pulled into the front office last Tuesday asking if these claims, which came in as an anonymous tip to administrators, were true.

He, along with his mom, wanting to set the record straight.

"I was appalled that someone would make false and malicious claims against her and against myself," he said.

"They're completely outlandish and outrageous and untrue and I've just been racking my brain like who could be malicious enough to make these allegations that could ruin her life?" Tatum Graf, a senior theater student said.

Graf was supposed to star alongside Maikell in their spring musical in two weeks.

Instead, she quit with Maikell Monday night after protesting rehearsal by sitting out and putting black tape over their mouths.

"We can't just standby and let this happen to our director and our mentor," she said.

Colorado Springs Police confirmed with News 5 on Tuesday they're investigating allegations but wouldn't give details.

Parents say they believe the theater program is being targeted for pushing the envelope, tackling issues like domestic violence, homosexuality and suicide through art. 

"She uses her creative, artistic expression to bring controversial topics that need to be talked about to an audience that's very, very conservative," Vanessa Graf, Tatum's mom said.

And students say, they just want their teacher back.

"We demand that our director comes back, we demand that our theater program gains respect from the administration," Graf said.

In an emailed statement, Academy District 20 told News 5 on Tuesday, "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."

News 5 will continue to track this and let you know what happens.

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