Continuing the theme from yesterday, here is another story of the impact social media is having on educators. This story is a follow-up to the post written last month by Michael Stafford, No First Amendment Protection for Teacher’s Facebook Posts. By way of recap, Jennifer O’Brien was a first-grade teacher in a largely black and Latino school in Paterson, New Jersey, posted on Facebook that she felt like a “warden for future criminals,” as reported by NPR.
O’Brien was terminated and subsequently filed suit alleging the district had violated her First Amendment rights. When the suit was later dismissed, O’Brien’s lawyer defended her client’s Facebook comment, syaing that it was not a reflection of how O’Brien felt about her students. Instead, claimed the lawyer, the comment had been a mere expression of frustration made at the end of a tough day.
I find that defense a bit difficult to buy, frankly. It requires us to disregard what a teacher writes because she “didn’t really mean it”? In other words, “Do what I say and not what I do.” That sounds like a bad idea for anyone but particularly for a teacher, who is supposed to serve as a role model for the children she teaches.
See also, Social-Media Woes for School Districts