Labor and Employment Law

Oil & Water; Cats & Dogs; Teachers & Facebook

 It seems fitting that the school ends with another story about educators and Facebook.  In this case, an elementary school  principal who had been with the district for 21 years resigned rather than face demotion, due in part to her Facebook postings Some of the posts which the principal shared included obscenities and the use of the "b" word in reference to other school employees.

The principal said she had her Facebook account locked down with privacy settings which limited who could see her posts.  In addition, the post were made on her personal time, and no parent or student could see them.  A spokesperson for the Michigan Association of School Administrators said her organization had no recommended policy for its members to follow, and that a number of school leaders were using Facebook incidents as "teaching opportunities" on proper on line conduct.

Teachers, like everyone else, experience the intersection of their personal and professional lives.  Until there is a Facebook for teachers only, teachers who bring their frustrations from a day in the classroom home and share them on Facebook run the risk of becoming "teaching opportunities" for others.  Regardless of free speech issues or privacy rights, teachers need to take a Facebook sabbatical during the school year and refrain from sharing stories about their students, co-workers, or administrators during the summer.

For additional Labor and Employment law insights from John Holmquist, visit the Michigan Employment Law Connection.

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