Education

Second teacher's fate being considered

An after-school staffer has been fired and a second classroom teacher could face the same fate because of offensive Facebook postings, a Charlotte schools spokeswoman said Monday.

A total of seven CMS faculty have now been disciplined in connection with pages that WCNC, the Observer's news partner, found on the social networking site.

Jason Dozier, the after-school staffer, listed “Chillin wit my n-----” as one of his activities; his page also featured a shirtless photo accompanied by a suggestive exchange with a female Facebook friend. Because his job is classified as “at will” employment, he does not have the right to appeal his firing, CMS Chief Communication Officer Nora Carr said Monday.

A high-school special-education teacher has been suspended for using a Facebook “mood box” to post “I'm feeling p----- because I hate my students!” Carr said it is likely she will also lose her job; officials will decide today.

Superintendent Peter Gorman has already recommended firing a Thomasboro Elementary teacher whose page said she was “teaching in the most ghetto school in Charlotte” and described her students as “chitlins.”

The Observer is not naming the teachers because their cases have not been resolved.

The Thomasboro teacher met with Gorman on Monday, said her lawyer, John Gresham. He said his client intended no offense to her students and was simply telling the truth about resegregated schools in CMS.

This year, 93 percent of Thomasboro's students qualify for lunch subsidies to low-income families, and only 3 percent are white. Gresham says that meets the dictionary definition of ghetto: a part of the city in which members of a minority group live, “especially because of social, legal or economic pressure.”

“I guess the question is, can you be terminated for telling the truth?” Gresham said. “Should she have said, ‘I teach children at a starkly resegregated school?'”

Thomasboro – where 74 percent of students are black, 13 percent are Asian and 6 percent are Hispanic – is one of 33 Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools where less than 5 percent of students are white.

Gresham said a Google search reveals that “chitlins” is used as slang for children, including on Web pages with white mothers using that label for their own kids.

Unless Gorman changes his mind about firing the teacher, she will be entitled to a hearing with a case manager, Gresham said, followed by an appeal to the school board. He said CMS also cited photos of the teacher at a bachelorette party in her dismissal letter.

Four other staffers received milder punishment in connection with photos or comments that displayed “poor judgment and bad taste,” according to Carr. The pages WCNC gave CMS included photos of teachers partying or striking sexually suggestive poses.

Last week a CMS official sent a memo to the district's 19,000-plus employees warning them that postings on social networking sites can cost them their jobs, even if those pages are meant to be private.

CMS Chief Operating Officer Hugh Hattabaugh wrote that even if such postings are done on personal time and intended for limited viewing, they can diminish an employee's professional reputation and the respect of colleagues, parents and students.

Sites such as Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and Match.com “provide the public with varying levels of access into the private lives of CMS employees,” he said. “Therefore, please understand that postings made to these Web sites may become part of the public domain in the same manner as a newspaper ad or a magazine article.”

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