educationtechnews.comTeacher forced to resign over legal Facebook photos

Teacher forced to resign over legal Facebook photos

February 24, 2011 by Claire Knight
Posted in: In this week's e-newsletter, Internet, Latest News & Views

What’s wrong with posting your vacation pictures on Facebook?

It might cost you your job, as one high school English teacher in Georgia recently learned the hard way. Here’s what happened:

After a whirlwind European tour during the summer, teacher Ashley Paine returned home and posted her vacation pictures on Facebook.

When school started in August, the principal called her into his office and asked if she had pictures of herself drinking alcohol on Facebook.

The 24-year-old teacher confirmed that she had posted pictures on her “private” Facebook account. They were taken during vacation and showed her holding a glass of wine and a mug of beer.

That’s when the principal claimed a parent called to complain about the photos — and informed Paine that she needed to make an immediate decision: resign or be suspended.

Paine resigned and hired an attorney. We’ll keep you posted on the situation.

The question now: Should this 24-year-old teacher have been forced to resign because her Facebook photos showed her holding wine and beer? View the problem photo here, and chime in below.

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  • Ronka

    THIS is why unions are needed in this country. A LEGAL adult,doing something LEGAL on her time… Our country is falling apart and we are letting it happen…

  • uconndirk

    it’s out of control. I’m guessing one mistake she may have made is not making her photos private to only her facebook friends? Also am wondering if teachers and students are “friends” on facebook? This may be a line not to cross…

  • bob

    It’s just another sign that our country and society are coming unglued. Two or more camps yelling and screaming at each other, not listening or paying attention. Nobody wants to take responsibility for anything, just blame the nearest scapegoat. Legislators taking oaths to make certain legal blockage will be the order of the day.
    Our society is beyond pathetic. Court settlements for people stupid and clumsy enough to spill hot coffee on themselves, political movements to undo laws that promote equality, it all stinks.
    Unfortunately, this is probably only the beginning. I hope she gets a major settlement, the principal has to apologize and cover her lost pay – personally, and the person who complained should be tossed in the deepest, darkest dungeon available for 15 life times (OK, that’s really extreme). I’m a disgruntled citizen at this point.

  • Libby

    “Teacher Forced to Resign over Legal Facebook Photo”: A Georgia teacher posted a picture of her on vacation. It showed her holding up two drinks and smiling. When school started she was ask to resign or be suspended. She resigned. She may have shown poor judgment on posting the picture but did she break any Georgia rule or school rule? If her contract said anything about this type of behavior then she did. A picture does not tell the whole truth of what was going on. It could have been just a joke. Apparently she thought that it would be seen by only people with permission to view her Facebook page. It will be interesting to see how the courts handle this. However, people need to be very careful of what they post on Facebook or any where else on the internet. A little thought and common sense might keep teachers out of harms way.

  • Kerry Bolton

    A similar thing happened a few years ago in PA with a student teacher. She posted a picture on her My Space page. University officals found it and denied her her teaching degree. http://chronicle.com/article/Drunken-Pirate-Learns/38725

  • Teresa G

    I have found that little good comes from facebook.

  • John G

    Being forced to resign for doing something legal on her own time is incredibly ridiculous. Students and their parents should not be shocked if a teacher decides to have a beer and enjoy themselves while on vacation.

    Even worse in this situation is the school administration’s response. Talk about spineless!!

  • Pam

    Doing something legal on her own time should not be grounds for being fired or forced to resign. It makes me wonder what is next.

  • Rand

    I’m sorry, I don’t see where the ‘mistake’ was she made as ‘uconndirk’ mentioned above. She is allowed to drink, she is allowed to post her own pictures online, she didn’t make any mistake. what’s the difference in posting your vacation picture while legally drinking wine or being in the neighborhood restaurant having a glass of wine with dinner and being seen by a parent? Both of these actions are perfectly legal. The Principal should be investigated for being weak minded and not backing their teacher by standing up to an obviously overbearing parent.

  • Stephanie

    Ridiculous! I guess teachers are supposed to de-activate at the end of the day and hang in the closet in their room. :P

  • Fred

    Fire every teacher that:
    1. has consumed or purchased alcohol
    2. has lived with the opposite gender without being married to them
    3. has cheated on their spouse or significant other
    4. divorces their spouse
    5. children (because we know what they did)
    6. has walked into a bar
    7. does not have a healthy or proper diet
    8. heck, does not live in a monastery for that matter

    These people are responsible for teaching our youth values and morals. We can’t leave that up to us parents. We are too busy partaking of the above list and a whole lot more.
    Keep these darn teachers in line. I should not and will not do my parental duties and raise my children.

  • George

    Time to hire a private investigator and publicly expose any minor indiscretions (even if they are actually legal and not immoral, but especially if they are not) of the parents who complained and the administrators who caved into the complaints… glass houses and all that.

  • Andrea

    So, if that teacher was at a restaurant having a glass of wine and the kid’s mother saw her there drinking, would that be grounds for dismissal?? How is posting a pic of yourself on your own FB page any different? If the woman was violating school policy by drinking at school then that would be a different story.
    I agree with previous posters, the adminstrators at the school were spineless and caved to an unreasonable parent.

  • Vicki

    uconndirk asked a great question…perhaps the teacher was foolish or forgot to make the photos private….but how did the parent get to the photo, and does the teacher “friend” students or parents. I take at the college level – and I never friend current students.
    As for the courts and public rights of free expression – the case that still sticks in my craw (when teachers are fired for posting personal photos) is the case of a nursing student who went home from clinical and, though not stating the actual name of the patient, proceeded to rant on FB about how ugly this person’s newborn child was. The student was dismissed from the program, but reinstated after a judge said that by not giving the patient’s name, the patients’ rights were not violated – forget the we forbid students to talk about patients outside of the clinical or classroom setting, and that I would not want her for my nurse ever! (Perhaps she will have the judge for a patient some day – we can only hope.)

  • macduude

    I agree that this should not be a disciplinary action at all. You can’t tell me that this particular principle or the superintendent do not go to conferences where there are cocktail hours or drinking with dinners. The teacher should be educated that anything you post online can find it’s way out. So that while this wasn’t objectionable be careful about posting “party pictures”. Even if kept “private” on Facebook, friends and often friends of friends can still find it and share it. Personally, I don’t see the problem with teachers being adults and adult things (drinking, dancing, riding mechanical bulls, etc) just like many of the parents do. As long they’re not engaged in illegal activity or in conduct that might be disruptive in the school then let them live their lives. I don’t even think it’s a problem if they do have nude pictures out there. If students aren’t supposed to accessing the sites or pages where they’re posted then there’s a different conversation that should be had with the parents about the student’s internet habits.


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