People say stupid things on Facebook all the time. Whether they cross the line and get too political, or overshare into the TMI zone, Facebook posts can be downright embarrassing. But when Facebook postings come from teachers and other important public figures, oversharing takes on a whole new level and people start to lose their jobs. These 11 disgraced teachers know that fact all too well. Badmouthing students, posting embarrassing photos, and even flirting with students are just some of the actions that have landed teachers in hot water on Facebook. Read on as we share 11 of the biggest cases of disgrace and embarrassment here.
Six primary school teachers celebrating a “hen party” (that’s British for bachelorette party) posted photos of their night out on Facebook, and unfortunately, did not have the sense to protect them as private. A school parent found the photos, and instead of quietly bringing them to the attention of school officials, took it upon herself to print out the photos and post them on the front doors of her neighbors, along with a letter indicating her displeasure at finding the images unprotected online. Other parents expressed their displeasure, but the school has not taken disciplinary action, commenting that “The photos in question were taken at a private hen night attended by a small group of school staff.” The photos have since been removed, and the teachers now have private Facebook profiles.
Barrow County teacher Ashley Payne went on a three-week trip to Europe one summer, and when she returned, posted photos of her trip to her personal Facebook page. As is the case with many visitors to Europe, Payne enjoyed alcoholic drinks, and some of the photos she posted included images of her holding glasses and enjoying herself. Later, she also shared a status that she’d be out to play “Crazy Bitch Bingo” at a restaurant in the area. Although Payne’s Facebook page was set to private and she never allowed access to students or parents at the high school where she taught, somehow the photos were leaked and anonymously shared with the Barrow superintendent, allegedly by a parent whose daughter had seen Payne’s photos and status. Payne was quickly pressured to resign, but sued to get her job back. Nearly three years later, she still hasn’t won, with a court ruling against her in November 2011, and she is now pursuing grad school.
Teachers are often witness to questionable fashion choices among their students. Kids who insist on dressing themselves, others going through awkward stages, and even students who want to express themselves in different ways. One such student in Chicago came to school with Jolly Rancher candies attached to her hair braids, a fashion that she and her mother were both quite proud of. Her teacher did not agree, and actually found the young girl’s hair to be very amusing. The teacher was so amused, in fact, that she took a photo of her student’s hair and shared it on Facebook to mock with her friends. The photo was discovered, and the mother complained to the school district, landing the teacher in hot water. The photo has been removed, and an apology was made, but there is still an investigation and lawsuit underway for the teacher.
Late last year, a New Jersey teacher, Viki Knox, spoke out on Facebook, sharing her anti-gay comments on Facebook. These comments were on a post from the school recognizing LGBT History Month, as she shared her belief that homosexuality is a sin. Once the controversy was sparked, Knox was pulled from the classroom, Parents at the school and others around the country have rallied to have Knox fired. Gay advocates have argued for her dismissal as well, pointing out that a teacher who is so strongly biased against gay students might be slow to enforce anti-bullying laws and allow gay students in her classroom. But Knox does have her supporters, with some rushing to defend her right to freedom of speech and religion. Tenure charges were formally filed against her in January 2012, and Knox now faces the very real possibility of being fired over her comments.
Invariably, students will misbehave in class when given even a sliver of a chance to act up. Students in Paterson, N.J., are no exception, and in one class, behavior got so bad that a teacher vented on Facebook about feeling like a “warden” for future criminals: her first-grade students, including a boy who had hit her and others who frequently disrupted class. A judge ruled that the post was insensitive in a city suffering from poverty and violence, and that the teacher should lose her job and not return to teaching in the city again. She can, however, teach elsewhere after sensitivity training.
This teacher is unique in that her Facebook shame had nothing to do with teaching, but her story is no less incredible for that fact. Dumped by her boyfriend, Victoria Jones stole photos of her friend’s baby on Facebook, and then used them to convince her ex that he’d fathered twins. Jones’s lie was uncovered when the “dad” showed his photos to a friend, who quickly pointed out that the children (in reality just one child) actually belonged to another woman. As a teacher, she was brought up on charges of unacceptable professional misconduct, and parents reported that they’d lost trust in both her and the school after hearing what had gone on. Jones was ultimately banned from teaching for a period of two years.
Believe it or not, teachers have been talking badly about their students since the invention of the teacher’s lounge. But in the age of Facebook, some of the conversations once reserved for that lounge go online. Teachers in Charlotte, N.C., have done just that, with five staff members of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools district facing disciplinary action. These teachers took their student complaints to Facebook, posting comments including, “I hate my students,” and “I teach chitlins.” Their Facebook pages also showed photos of the teachers drinking and posing inappropriately. These posts and photos were entirely public, accessible by parents, students, and even local television news stations, including a station that started the investigation. One teacher is facing a possible firing over her comments, while the others have received disciplinary action.
Most of the teachers on this list can claim stupidity for their actions, but we just can’t feel sorry for former Bronx teacher Chadwin Reynolds, who has been fired for inappropriately contacting his students on Facebook. Reynolds commented on student Facebook photos with responses like, “This is sexy,” and even outright flirted with a student, sending her flowers, candy, and a teddy bear. All of the interactions were public and easily left as evidence for school officials to discover. Reynolds was quite swiftly fired for his totally inappropriate Facebook interactions.
If you could save a student’s life, would you? The answer for most teachers would be yes, but Brooklyn teacher Christine Rubino’s answer was no. After a 12-year-old Harlem school girl drowned on a class trip to the beach, Rubino posted on her Facebook: “After today, I’m thinking the beach is a good trip for my class. I hate their guts.” When a friend asked if she’d “throw a life jacket to little Kwami,” Rubino’s answer was a definitive no. Although this interaction was on her private page, a fellow teacher saw the conversation and shared it with the school’s administration. As Rubino came under fire, a friend claimed that she’d logged in as the teacher and posted the hateful comments, but investigators didn’t buy it and Rubino is well on her way to getting fired.
Teachers, you may think that your students are germ-infested jerks, but you’d better not share those thoughts with Facebook, especially if parents have access to your page. Massachusetts teacher June Talvitie-Siple spouted off about her students on Facebook, describing them as “germ bags” and even going after parents as “snobby” and “arrogant.” Two parents noticed the comments and brought them to the attention of the school superintendent, who emailed Talvitie-Siple and encouraged her to resign. The teacher thought her posts were private, and admits that she “made a stupid mistake” that may have cost her career. She has since adjusted her Facebook settings.
So many teachers disgraced by their actions on Facebook have been fired, or will be, and a good deal of them are appealing their terminations. But Ginger D’Amico is one of the few who have fought back and won. D’Amico was suspended when she appeared in a Facebook photo with a male stripper, a photo taken at a bachelorette party for another teacher. She calls the incident “something completely innocent that got blown out of proportion,” and with the help of the ACLU, won a settlement against the school district. She will get back pay for her 30-day suspension, a clean disciplinary record, and $10,000 in damages.
Taking a Closer Look at the Stories Ignored by the Mainstream Media