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Fulton teacher resigns over Facebook rant. Is social media a minefield for educators?

An indiscriminate Facebook post cost another Georgia teacher her job. WXIA/Channel 11 reports a Fulton County high school Latin teacher resigned after the system became aware of posts blasting a student for keeping her at school late while he finished a test.

The student qualified for disability accommodations that allow him extra time to complete exams. For reasons unclear to me, the student did not come to the teacher's classroom to finish up his exam until three hours after school ended. That seems a long time to make a teacher wait for a student to arrive – especially on the Friday before the break.

I understand the teacher’s frustration with being forced to wait so long to wrap up her day. She would have been wiser to complain to friends over pizza rather than on social media. The teacher never identifies the student by name, but her exasperated tone and use of expletives apparently crossed a line with Fulton school officials.

Facebook has tripped up many teachers, including the famous Georgia case where a young teacher was coerced into resigning over European vacation photos that showed her drinking wine and beer. If I were a teacher, I would be judicious with postings. As a reporter, I limit my personal Facebook posts to fairly tepid stuff.  This post seemed the venting of a teacher eager to go home after a long, long day rather than an attack on the student.

Channel 11 reports:

She began the posts with "thanks a lot, kid, for finally coming to finish your effin' final more than THREE HOURS after school let out."

Later, she wrote, "He has some (expletive) disorder: one of those 'we don't know what his disorder is and we don't want him to be labeled, so we are not going to find out, but we want academic accommodations anyway' disorders."

She explained to her more than 400 Facebook friends that "he gets an extra hour for each final, and complains he decided to finish all six on Friday afternoon."

Finally, she wrote, "Holy (expletive), he's finally gone. I get to go home now. Only 5.5 hours after school let out. She explained that, "On the way out, he says I'll be the last student to walk through the doors of JCHS in 2015", which she said is "not funny, but tragic." She ended with, "I want to be sad for you, but at the end of the day, we're all better off now that you're not around."

Fulton Schools sent Channel 11 a statement:

We are appalled at the social media posts and the disrespect shown to a student. Ms. Lynch met with our Human Resources Division yesterday (the first day back for teachers) where she was notified that this behavior did not meet the standard of professionalism expected of all Fulton County teachers. She decided to resign her position and is no longer employed by Fulton County Schools. FCS does not monitor the personal social media of our staff but employees are accountable for the use of good judgement.

Here is the news report by WXIA's Donna Lowery:

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About the Author

Maureen Downey has written editorials and opinion pieces about local, state and federal education policy since the 1990s.