In Paterson, New Jersey, a first-grade teacher has been suspended for posting a status update on her Facebook page that implied she felt like a warden overseeing future criminals. And by "implied," I mean her status update said, "I feel like a warden overseeing future criminals," according to a district official.
Needless to say, parents of the teacher's students weren't too happy about their children being called "future criminals," and the teacher (whose name hasn't been released) was suspended with pay after a "significant number" of parents complained.
This comment particularly hit home because the Paterson school district has "long been one of New Jersey's most troubled school systems," according to The New York Times.
School board president Theodore Best said the teacher was suspended not for her indiscreet Facebook status update, but because "the incident created serious problems at the school that impeded the functioning of the building." Best told North Jersey's The Record that "You can't simply fire someone for what they have on a Facebook page; but if that spills over and affects the classroom then you can take action."
Show and Tell
Meanwhile, over in Chicago, a computer lab teacher at Overton Elementary School has been reprimanded for posting photos of a 7-year-old girl on Facebook and mocking her hairstyle.
According to The Chicago Tribune, the teacher posted two photos of the girl -- a side shot and a back-of-the-head shot -- along with the line, "And y'all thought I was joking!" The girl's hairstyle was special for picture day -- braids with Jolly Ranchers tied to the ends, a hairstyle she'd seen and admired in a magazine (hey, 7-year-olds are not known for their keen sense of fashion).
The teacher's friends then joined in, with comments such as, "If you're going to make your child look ridiculous, the least thing you can do is have them matching," and "I laughed so hard that my contact popped out."
The girl's mother was alerted to the issue when another parent -- whose child was Facebook "friends" with the teacher -- sent her an email with screenshots of the page. The teacher then apologized to the mother and took down the page, though the Chicago Public School district is still looking into the incident and says it "will warrant disciplinary action."
While it's true that both of these Facebook posts were probably not 100 percent serious, and were meant for the benefit of entertaining the respective teachers' friends, that won't change how certain people perceive them.
The moral of the story? Don't post anything about your job, ever, unless it's something that absolutely cannot be misconstrued. That's why I always post things like, "PCWorld is the best magazine ever," and "I love my editors."