I’ve heard about students being punished for what they write on social networking sites, but this article is the first I’ve heard of teachers being held accountable for making inappropriate comments online. Seven teachers in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg district were flagged for posting inappropriate content on their Facebook pages, says the article. Four of those teachers have been disciplined for their posts and one is waiting for a ruling on whether she can keep her job.
The teacher facing firing apparently listed one of her activities as “teaching chitlins in the ghetto of Charlotte” and “drinking” as one of her hobbies, according to the article.
I have mixed feelings about employers holding their employees accountable for what they do in their private lives, but in this case, all the employees in question clearly identified their employer on their Web sites and left them open for public viewing, which means that any student could have stumbled across the derogatory and inappropriate comments. In that case, I tend to agree with the school district that disciplinary action against the teachers should be taken.
I do think, though, that more education about the school district’s policies regarding both students’ and teachers’ behavior on social networking sites is necessary and appropriate at this point in time. While these particular teachers did display poor judgment in what they chose to share about themselves in a public forum, more explicit information about what is and is not appropriate couldn’t hurt.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Digital Education blog.