Ashley Payne – the Barrow County teacher who lost her job over unsubstantiated and spurious claims that she allowed students access to her Facebook page — remains unemployed and still waiting for her day in court.
I have touched base with Payne or her attorney every few months, as the hearing on the highly controversial case was initially scheduled for August but has yet to occur. She has not found another job in teaching, although she very much wants to return to the classroom.
The AJC has a news update today on the case, which hinges on who sent an e-mail to the Barrow superintendent alleging that Payne had inappropriate photos and comments on her Facebook page and that she had “friended” students.
The anonymous e-mail, which came from a fake e-mail address, was allegedly sent by a parent but the tenor and the language suggested that a fellow teacher wrote it. The photos were the standard European vacation shots of Payne sitting in cafes and beer gardens. The questionable comment was a reference to playing “bitch bingo,” a game played at an Atlanta restaurant/bar.
There was never a shred of evidence that Payne had friended students, and the e-mail clearly seemed the handiwork of a disgruntled co-worker to everyone except the Barrow school officials. Even with the lack of substantiation and the baseless accusations, Payne was warned by her principal that she best resign or face a loss of licensure. Now, Payne is suing, maintaining that she was coerced into resigning. (Read here how the system never traced the source of the e-mail.)
Payne’s case struck a nerve nationwide and remains closely watched.
According to the AJC:
Since leaving Barrow, she hasn’t been able to find another teaching position.
“She never was able to find a job because things have been kind of bad for teachers,” Storrs said. “She’s done some part-time jobs and seasonal jobs but not a teaching job.”
Since the incident, Barrow County Schools has changed leadership, which Storrs hoped would bring resolution to the case.
Wanda Creel, who took over as superintendent of the district April 1, would not comment in detail except to say the lawsuit had not been resolved.