A former high school teacher is suing a north Georgia school district, alleging she was forced to resign over photos and expletives on Facebook.
Ashley Payne contends that the Barrow County school district violated state labor law because she was never told she was entitled to a hearing. Her attorney, Richard Storrs, says the 24-year-old former Apalachee High School teacher was “not made aware of her rights” and should be granted the hearing.
After teaching at the school for two years, Payne resigned in August after her principal questioned her about her Facebook page, which included photos of her holding wine and beer and an expletive.
(Payne told the Athens Banner Herald it was the “B” word that landed her in hot water with her principal. She posted it in the context of saying she was going to an Atlanta restaurant that featured a game called Crazy “B” Bingo. Here is a link to the bars that hold Crazy Bxxxx Bingo games.)
The more I learn about this case, I have to wonder who’s crazy here.
Unless the school system has other concerns about this teacher, I can’t understand how her Facebook page content – which would be tame for even my mother – would get her fired.
Barrow has a policy that states employees can be investigated and disciplined for postings on Web sites that contain provocative photographs, sexually explicit messages, use of alcohol, drugs or anything students are prohibited from doing. And the policy allows for termination for such transgressions.
According to the Barrow Journal:
According to the court filing, [principal] McGee informed Payne that the school system strongly disapproved of her activity on the popular social networking site Facebook. Specifically, McGee objected to photos which showed Payne holding alcoholic beverages while on vacation and a status update which used a pejorative term for females.Allegedly McGee then told Payne that her online conduct was unacceptable and that if she did not resign, she would be suspended. McGee further advised that a suspension would adversely affect her chances for future employment. The filing states that McGee told Payne that she “could not win this” and that resignation was her best option.
As a result of the meeting, Payne resigned from the school system immediately.
The lawsuit states that Payne was not informed of her right to a hearing, nor was it disclosed that a suspension could only be for a period of ten days. As a result, Payne claimed her resignation was wrongfully coerced by McGee.
Frankly, given the sex tapes that folks are making and sending (Miss California, for instance) and the other outrageous stuff on the Internet, does this case warrant removal of the teacher?
And should teachers be accountable for what they do off hours as long as their conduct is legal?