No 1st Amendment Protection for Teacher’s Facebook Posts

chalkboard desk green.jpgFacebook has landed another public school teacher in hot water. An administrative law judge in New Jersey has recommended that a school district terminate Jennifer O’Brien for her Facebook posts, in which she referred to her first-grade students in Patterson, New Jersey as “future criminals” and analogizing her job to being a “warden” in a Facebook post.

According to the NSBA, parents initially discovered and reported the teacher’s Facebook musings.
In the words of the ALJ, the teacher “demonstrated a complete lack of sensitivity to the world in which her students live. The sentiment that a 6-year-old will not rise above the criminal element that surrounds him cuts right to the bone.” In the ALJ’s view, the district’s need to operate efficiently trumped any free speech rights because “thoughtless words can destroy the partnership between home and school that is essential to the mission of the schools.”

The lesson here is clear- exercise good judgment when using social media and remember, the world is watching!

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