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:

Reader Comments 0

65 comments
advocateforchange
advocateforchange

It is true that some parents abuse the system and demand extra time on tests when the child really does not need additional time on tests. 


A few years ago the qualifications of 504 accommodations changed.  Today, most conditions do qualify an individual to ask for accommodations, so a student with asthma may receive 504 accommodations. Pregnancy could qualify for the individual on a temporary basis.  Most of the time these children do not need additional time unless they have an asthma attack but if they had an asthma attach during testing the individual might qualify for additional time.


However, the key is that the individual/students must be getting the accommodation during the school year in their classes in order to begin to qualify with the College Board.  The College Board determines if the student/individual does qualify.  The school sends the college board the information and the College Board makes the determination if the individual/student qualifies for an accomodation.


I agree that this incident does not necessary qualify for being fired.  However, I also assure you that once she got to the personnel office and it probable was suggested she/he resigned vs other options the resignation appeared to be the best option for her at that time for her family and herself.   So many of these incidences happen and vs making the news (many times) the employee decides to resign.  Normally when the teacher/employee resigns the school system tries to keep the information from making the media. In some instances the teacher/individual are even arrested at a later time and the incident does not make the news.

 Only DeKalb School System appears to always make the 5 or 6 o'clock news.  However, I can assure you that the same situations are happening in other school systems but the school system convinces the teacher/employee to resign and their name normally does not make all the news channels which appears positive when you are called or driven down to personnel.  Most people will resign.  These may not really be what is best for them or their family but they are convinced or bullied to believe this is what is best.

Lee_CPA2
Lee_CPA2

Well Kiddies, what have we learned here:

  • If you work in a profession that has a "Standard of Conduct", social media is not your friend.
  • Coercing an employee to resign in lieu of termination is a common tactic employers use.  There are some benefits from resigning if you TRULY committed a "firing offense".  Otherwise, as the teacher who resigned over the glass of wine found out, you give up your rights to contest your termination when you tender your resignation.
  • Since this teacher did not name the student, there is no way the county could have terminated her for cause and made it stick - unless she had other disciplinary actions on file.  Perhaps we are not getting the full story here.....
  • Where social media is concerned, do not post anything that you would not sign and post on the bulletin board (which is essentially what you are doing electronically)
  • If you are called into a meeting with your principal and threatened with termination and then offered a chance to resign, your correct response should be:  "Hmmmm, I need to talk to my attorney before I sign anything."  
  • The school system is set up to protect "the school system".  Which means, individual teachers are cannon fodder and will be discarded and/or fed to the wolves in order to protect the system.


And in a few months, we'll be reading about another teacher nailed by social media.

eulb
eulb

“He has some (expletive) disorder: one of those ‘we don’t know what his disorder is...."

I'm glad this  particular teacher DIDN'T know an exact diagnosis for this student when she typed her rant.  Her diatribe was bad enough, but blurting out a confidential dx would have made it much worse.

Travelfish
Travelfish

Funny how it took fifty-plus comments before anyone pointed out that confidential personal information on this student was divulged in a most public manner.

Public servants are necessarily held to a high standard. This teacher didn't live up to that standard.

SayItsnotso
SayItsnotso

I, too, do not understand why this teacher had to wait 3 hours after school for this.  Plenty of students have special needs and accommodations, but I have never heard of this.  I'm thinking there must have been some reason, perhaps he had to be tested alone?  not sure on this one.

Beach Bound2020
Beach Bound2020

College Board and ACT will absolutely provide extra time to students who submit a 504 plan or other documentation that indicates they have extended time on tests at their school.  That is why so many parents (especially at high performing schools) will look for methods to get their child on a 504 plan in high school.  This is something that parents "in the know" have been using for years to get so their child can have an edge on everyone else on the SAT and ACT.  Mind you a 504 is used by many for very legitimate reasons, but sadly it has also been abused by desperate but maybe well meaning - I'm trying to be nice- parents as a tactic for a higher score.  However, soon it should negate itself, because once every student has extended time, than no student has an advantage over another.

class80olddog
class80olddog

She is probably accurate in her assessment of this student, but it is not PC to ever say anything.

liberal4life
liberal4life

@class80olddog 

Strange why you would consider this a PC issue. It seems like everyone is using PC-bashing as an excuse for stupidity these days.

BurntGrassroot
BurntGrassroot

Voltaire — 'To find out who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed tocriticize.'

bufordpurvis
bufordpurvis

should she be reprimanded? Yes. Fired or pushed out? No. I'm critical of teachers, think they get too much credit, think they have a martyr complex and all that but they are human.


she was wrong to rant on fb. But a resignation does not fit this "crime." She should have apologized, gotten a reprimand, and perhaps been required to do sensitivity training. Losing a job seems way too strong 

MaureenDowney
MaureenDowney moderator

@bufordpurvis I agree.  As far as Facebook rants go, this one was not at the extreme end. 

I also think she brings up an interesting issue, time accommodations in testing.

I am hearing more about how often this occurs, especially in private schools. 

It is a great help to have extra time for the ACT and the new SAT. 

I recently spoke to a friend who is attempting to get extra time on the grounds her daughter is "anxious" about testing. But isn't every kid anxious around high-stakes tests? Maybe, we should just move away from timed tests. 

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

@MaureenDowney @bufordpurvis We had a kid who got special time and individual testing because she had asthma. Now, no one ever saw her need her inhaler, but every year she got tested by a teacher who just happened to be a family friend, in a room by herself.


I did not know it was POSSIBLE to get extra time for ACT/SAT.  Time is part of the challenge in doing well. Are you sure?

BurntGrassroot
BurntGrassroot

@MaureenDowney @bufordpurvis Ms. Downey, I think that part of schools' education is to prepare and equip students for what they can expect in the working world. Self-sufficient adults have to perform in less than ideal conditions, a lesson better learned sooner than later.

eulb
eulb

@Wascatlady @MaureenDowney @bufordpurvis 

Sorry, but I emphatically disagree with all 3 of you.  That FB rant was NOT mild.  IMO, if that rant had been about a co-worker or supervisor, firing would be appropriate.  It's even more appropriate when the target was a child.

You seem to assume that this student intentionally behaved in ways that justified this teacher's rant.  Do you have any evidence of that at all? From where I sit, it looks like you simply leaped to the conclusion that that this particular student must have ODD or his parents must be misusing the SPED accommodations to gain an advantage over typical kids.  Really?  I see no evidence of any of that.  Is this your opinion of all sped kids and their parents?

From what I've seen, he could just as easily be a nerdy, sensitive Aspergers-ish kid with high IQ and low processing speed trying to do well on his Latin exam, totally unaware of the adult's desire to get out of the building.  Somebody please point out to me: what exactly did this student do that was wrong?  

In this blog and elsewhere, I keep reading that schools are overburdened by students with fake disorders whose parents demands for special treatment. I guess those parents do exist, but I sure haven't met them.  

 Wascatlady, are you sure that "asthma" was the grounds for that student's 504 time extension?  Maybe true, but it sure sounds like an exaggerated rumor.  In any case, I'm sorry it colored your perception of other SPED parents.

eulb
eulb

@BurntGrassroot

Funny! So are you saying this teacher was fulfilling the school's mission by toughening up a vulnerable student in preparation for a future job where vicious insults will be hurled at him?

Looks like Ms. Lynch's employer didn't agree.

J260
J260

Oh no, a poor little teacher had to work a few hours extra one day (like 95% of the rest of us do on a regular basis) and didn't get to leave at 2:00PM so she could go home and watch General Hospital.  And now she might have to go get a job in the real world where she doesn't get a week off in the spring, two weeks over Christmas break, three months in the summer, and full retirement in her early 50's.  I am so sad for her.  Cry me a river!

Ugaboss
Ugaboss

Just for your information, she doesn't get paid for those days off.

WhiteRabbit
WhiteRabbit

@Wascatlady @J260 Let's not encourage that individual to become a teacher.  Maybe for one day just to let the lesson sink in, but the empathy clearly isn't there to do the real work.

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

@J260 Perhaps, since you seem so jealous, you should become a teacher.  It might disabuse you of some of your crazy "facts!"

fpfuerst
fpfuerst

@J260 J260 you have no idea what a teacher's job is like. No teacher's day end at 2pm. A normal day is 9+ hours, plus time at home grading papers and preparing. To require her to spend and extra 5.5 hours for a student who can't/won't arrive on time is ridiculous. Inmates running the asylum.

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

@J260 Oh, and "full retirement?" You should look into what that means to Georgia teachers--how it is figured.

J260
J260

@Wascatlady @J260 yes, than compare that to Social security, which the rest of us are saddled with whether we like it or not, and you "educators: are excused from paying into.

liberal4life
liberal4life

@J260 @Ugaboss 

You are absolutely incorrect. Teachers are also paid to get their job done - their job, however, consists of more than just those hours they meet with their students in classrooms.

J260
J260

@Ugaboss Just for your information, salaried professionals get paid to work however many days and hours are required to get the job done.  Except for teachers, of course, who think they aren't supposed to do anything beyond the bare minimum.

ByteMe
ByteMe

Friends don't let friends Facebook drunk.

SmokinDawg
SmokinDawg

@ByteMe  LOL! I think you got to the heart of the matter right there!

ljhays
ljhays

Which is too bad, because Latin is the foundation for the Romance languages and much of English. Also helpful if one is planning on going to medical or law school.

CDW2000
CDW2000

The issue isn't whether she was tired, frustrated, or whatever.  The issues isn't the kid or the accommodation.  The issue is DON'T RANT ABOUT YOUR JOB ON FACEBOOK.


I don't care who you are or where you work.  It doesn't matter what you are annoyed about.  That indiscretion WILL bite you in the hind quarters. 


You are allowed to complain about your job.  Just don't put it in writing, blast it out to several hundred people, and expect that nothing unpleasant will come of it.

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

@CDW2000 I agree. I do not FB.  If you want me to know what is going on with you, call or write me(snail or e).  If I have anything to tell you, I will do the same.  I also don't send out "Christmas brag letters."  If it is important enough to tell, I will write it out, individually, on the card.  It says to me, "You are important enough that I will take the time to tell you about it, individually."

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

Anyone else besides me think it iNSANE that she was expected to wait after school for hours for the student to show up?  Unacceptable.


I co-taught a student whose parents were asked to come in.  The father sent his adult sister, who arrived 2 hours after the end of the day, AND WAS MYSTIFIED THAT THE TEACHER WAS NOT THERE,WAITING AT THE LOCKED DOORS TO LET HER IN!


Did this teacher inform the principal of the student's decision?  I sure would have, and I would have expected the principal to say to me, "Have a happy holiday.  Do you need help carrying your things out to the car?"  A good principal would have done that, if s/he had known about it.


SWD are certainly allowed accommodations,  but this student's expectation is beyond the pale.

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

I do have a question about this particular event: Did the student start the exam with his class at the correct, scheduled time? If so, it would seem only an hour, not 2 1/2 should be allotted to complete.  And if the student did NOT begin the exam at the regular time, and waited till after school to do the whole thing, WHY?  This sounds like a serious administrative problem that school-level administrators need a handle on!


This is yet another example Richard Woods could look at to see why teachers are so dissatisfied.

Michael2255
Michael2255

@Wascatlady It looks like the kid took 6 exams that day and used an extra hour or less on the exams leading up to Ms. Lynch's exam.

WW5
WW5

E pluribus unum

PJ25
PJ25

If I were a principal, I'd hire her in a second.  

Ralph-43
Ralph-43

A 'Latin' instructor who has to resort to uneducated 'Anglo Saxon' to express her anger?  The current manager's simple I.Q. test is the F to non-F ratio in the employee's speech.  This so-called 'teacher' appears to be a remnant of those uneducated, unproductive poor-house residents and convicts that England deposited in the Georgia colony centuries ago.  Fast food service for this person.  We should all be alarmed and learn what credentials including University degree has been mistakenly awarded to this person.

WhiteRabbit
WhiteRabbit

@Ralph-45 The job is stressful.  Imagine trying to teach Latin in a Fulton Co public school.  She probably once loved what she studied and was good at it--Latin teachers are pretty rare, and usually pretty smart, disciplined people.  And, forgive me saying so, but I think Chaucer in the 14th century demonstrated that English is an acceptable language for expressing whatever one wishes to express, even though he could have done his Tales in Latin.  And think of this: a bad cop can shoot a kid--shoot a kid--16 times, for nothing, in the street in Chicago and nobody bats an eye, then a valuable Latin teacher calls out a slacker in Atlanta and gets fired, by some functionary, for nothing.

WhiteRabbit
WhiteRabbit

@WW5 @WhiteRabbit @Ralph-45 Which is too bad--it's fun and good for the mind and a place to meet bright people and learn about the ancient world, art, rhetoric, poetry, sensuality, mortality, humanity.  But it's gone the way of music and the arts, and soon, I fear, literature in general.

Ralph-43
Ralph-43

@WhiteRabbit @WW5 @Ralph-45 Latin should be mandatory because of its foundation for English vocabulary and spelling.  I am sorry this 'Latin' teacher lost it, but she does not appear to have the maturity and leadership qualities necessary for an effective teacher.

WhiteRabbit
WhiteRabbit

@Ralph-45 @WhiteRabbit @WW5 Well, nobody's perfect, not even--oddly enough--Latin teachers, who should be, but aren't, practically perfect in every way. Not long ago I had a student cuss me up and down and was told it was fine because it was "free speech"--at school!  Not so for teachers.  I agree about the foundational teachings argument, but it's over for Latin, except for enthusiasts and high-end scholars.  Even for philosophy it's done, and that's shocking and sad--departments are down to nearly nothing.  Consider that there was a time people were arguing Greek--Greek and Latin--should be required--where are you going to get a Greek language teacher today?  In a little cafe in Greece, I guess.  Which doesn't seem like a bad idea, now I think on it.

BozTheGreatAndPowerful
BozTheGreatAndPowerful

@Ralph-45  I would be interested to see your qualifications that justify such an inaccurate analysis of not only an overly helpful and accommodating teacher, but also an entire population of people in a state you have probably never visited.  If everyone had the ability to feel as great about themselves as you appear to, then perhaps they would not feel the need to rant on facebook about situations in their life that cause them undue frustration.   Perhaps you could share your great knowledge with the poor, uneducated population of a state that continues to grow in size, due to the influx of better educated and more well spoken individuals like yourself who flock here from northern and midwestern states to find employment.