Should a teacher’s Facebook posts ruin her career?

A former high school teacher is suing a north Georgia school district, alleging she was forced to resign over photos and expletives on Facebook, reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. 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. 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 or drugs, or anything students are prohibited from doing–and the policy allows for termination for such transgressions. Apalachee’s principal allegedly told Payne that her online conduct was unacceptable and that if she did not resign, she would be suspended. But 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?

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