The opportunity for free-running self-expression is one of the big reasons people create their own pages on social networking Web sites. But the recent firing of a Florida teacher over his MySpace page calls into question how free a teacher can ever be to express his or her thoughts.
John Bush, a 52-year-old physical education teacher at Landrum Middle School in Augustine, was terminated after Bush’s page turned up with a photo and text that the school board attorney said were not pornographic, but “inappropriate for school teachers in St. Johns County.”
Bush, who’s fighting for his former job, says he didn’t post the material, hypothesizing that someone hacked into his site. He added that he took down the content in question as soon as he learned about it. His MySpace page currently shows his portrait and identifies him as a divorced teacher looking to date and meet friends.
“I don’t think that’s inappropriate, personally,” said Stephanie Eastman, the parent of a Landrum student. “He is a person, after all, at the end of the school day.”
Teachers know they have to set a certain standard of behavior, whether they’re at school or not, but where do you draw the line? How much authority should administrators have over teachers’ personal, non-school-affiliated Web sites?
What do you think?
A version of this news article first appeared in the Web Watch blog.