Blogging and a Teachers Actions Challenge First Amendment Rights
The First Amendment might protect our rights to express our opinion but not always. Recently a teacher in the Central Bucks PA school district was suspended with pay for writing a blog.
Blogging isn’t the problem, what is at issue is her topics included discussing students and her true feelings about them and her profession. The teacher Natalie Munroe has been blogging since August of 2009.
Some of her comments discussed how the report cards came with standardized comments. She would use these comments but told what she really meant when she chose one. For example “If they talk a lot, I’ll put easily distracted on it” or “if it’s a kid that has no personality, I’ll put ability to work independently”.
She also came up with a list of comments that she felt should be included. She wanted to add “Just as bad as his sibling, Don’t you know how to raise kids?” or “Dresses as a streetwalker”.
Needless to say when students learned of this blog they used social media the way they know best. The blog and postings immediately were posted and shared on Facebook. It wasn’t long before it was all over the school and parents were calling outraged.
The district is now deciding Ms. Munroe’s fate. It is district policy that teachers aren’t allowed to use computers for personal work. The blog posting date stamp shows that she did do this on occasion.
The teachers union which is quick to defend its members is trying to decide how to approach this issue. They have issued guidelines to their members in the past regarding social media.
They have told members to realize what they post can be seen by others and don’t post anything you wouldn’t want your principal or superintendent to read. It specifically mentions not to discuss students, fellow teachers or administrators. Ms. Munroe did all of these on her blog.
Right now the district and students are dealing with the shock and embarrassment. Students remember Ms. Munroe telling them to be careful what they post online because of the danger to their reputation. So needless to say they are confused why their teacher didn’t take her own advice.
Time is going to tell what will ultimately happen to Ms. Munroe. But for now the district is doing its best to assure students and their families it won’t happen again.