Teacher Fired for Compromising Photo
Back in January, a teacher in Pennsylvania was let go from her job because of a photo she posted on her Myspace page. She had labelled the photo “Drunk Pirate”, and while it was a fairly tame picture, the school decided that it showed a lack of judgement and professional behaviour from the teacher. They considered it damning enough to send her packing.
The teacher countered their action with a lawsuit, and the case went through the court system for awhile. Now, we have learned that the teacher’s appeal was unsuccessful.
The teacher, the judge found, was more like a public employee than a student. That meant that her free speech on matter of public concern were protected by the First Amendment. She was not allowed by law to be barred from her position simply because of her opinions. However, the matter presented before the judge was not a matter pertaining to political opinion or free speech but one of professionalism. The school had determined that her Myspace photo was not something a professional should be displaying, and the school promptly cut her off from completing the education program she was pursuing. Any administrators in the county who were trying to override that decision and grant her a teaching diploma were found to be lacking authority in the matter.
It is unfortunate that the teacher was unable to win her appeal, but this is a clear example of why it is so important to protect one’s online reputation.