The recent examples of two teachers who have come under fire for questionable social media posts should serve as a warning to other educators: Be careful what you post online.
In one case, a Pennsylvania high school is grappling with how to deal with requests from more than 200 students who don’t want to be assigned to teacher Natalie Munroe’s English classes, once Munroe returns to school Aug. 29 for the first time since being suspended in February for posting blog comments that were critical of her students.
In the other case, Lake County, Fla., teacher Jerry Buell—who was suspended after making anti-gay comments on Facebook—returned to the classroom Aug. 26 after being reinstated by Lake County Schools Superintendent Susan Moxley.
Both instances highlight the need for educators to show proper judgment in using social media to communicate, said Nora Carr, an award-winning columnist for eSchool News.
Educators “need to recognize that they serve as role models for children and young people,” said Carr, who writes a monthly column on stakeholder relations for eSchool News and is the chief of staff for North Carolina’s Guilford County Schools. “They also need to recognize that social media, by its very nature, is a public venue. It is not private. It is similar to buying an ad in the daily newspaper.”
She added: “If you do this on your own time and using your own equipment, you have the right to say whatever you want to. That doesn’t mean that there won’t be professional consequences, however—particularly if what you post is hurtful or demeaning to a student.”
Central Bucks High School East probably will use a substitute teacher to take over Munroe’s three classes, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported Aug. 24.
Sixty-two of the estimated 90 students assigned to Munroe’s two English classes and one debate class requested transfers, leaving her with about 28 students, school spokeswoman Carol Counihan said. More requests are expected before classes start Aug. 30, she said.