Caustic remarks on a Facebook page by a Wake County middle school teacher and her friends about her students, the South and Christianity could get the educator fired.
Melissa Hussain, an eighth-grade science teacher at West Lake Middle School in Apex, was suspended with pay Friday while investigators review her case, according to Greg Thomas, a Wake schools spokesman.
If you're publicly making remarks about the people you work with, and that includes students, then you're in a gray area. I'm not saying the teacher should automatically be fired for this, just that the teacher isn't covered by my total "butt out, school" philosphy.
At first glance, I'm inclined to believe that this teacher should be allowed to attack Christianity. So what if her students are Christians? I attack liberalism all the time, and plenty of my students are liberals. Should I not be allowed to do so?
I'm a little unsure about attacking "the South", as the attacks are clearly general attacks about people from the South. Throw in race or sexual orientation instead of "the South" and few would defend it, so I'm inclined to yell "gray area!" or "yellow light, slow down!" here.
But attacking particular students? Uh, no. I can't abide that. Sometimes, long after a particular incident, it can be acceptable to write about an incident and leave names out of it. Talking about something that happened in class today--well, you have to be careful. I can't come up with a hard and fast rule, but I'd say some discretion is required. It's acceptable to write about this, for example, but it wouldn't be acceptable to trash someone in your class.
What's a reasonable rule of thumb for what's acceptable for a teacher to post publicly versus what isn't acceptable?
Update: Maybe I'm wrong, maybe there isn't a gray area at all:
A student who set up a Facebook page to complain about her teacher -- and was later suspended -- had every right to do so under the First Amendment, a federal magistrate has ruled.
The ruling not only allows Katherine "Katie'' Evans' suit against the principal to move forward, it could set a precedent in cases involving speech and social networking on the Internet, experts say.
Perhaps, as long as we're not discussing Privacy Act issues, we teachers are also free to say whatever we like.
Hat tip to NewsAlert for the update.