A few weeks ago, we talked about a Georgia teacher who lost her job because of photos that appeared on Facebook, and now we have a similar (with important differences) situation in New York.
This time, it’s not a teacher, but the principal of New York’s Jane Addams High School, and the photos are slightly more suggestive — in the photo in question, Principal Sharron Smalls appears to be dancing with a shirtless man who is pouring chocolate sauce on the high school principal. Again the photo appeared on Facebook, but unlike the situation with Georgia teacher Ashley Payne, the existence of the image of Smalls came to light through student distribution; in Payne’s case, school administrators were notified of the photo through an anonymous phone call.
Smalls is currently being investigated by New York City Department of Education officials over a “massive course credit scandal,” which could lead to as much as half of the senior class being ineligible for graduation this year, and the release of Smalls’ Facebook profile photo by students is believed to be in retaliation. The “credit scandal” is said to involve students being given chemistry credit for a cosmetology class and geography credit for a tourism course — all this in a school that has earned straight F’s in a city-issued progress report and may soon be shut down.
The credit scandal is without a doubt the more concrete, serious allegation here, but again we’re faced with the question of how much of a teacher’s private life should matter to school officials, parents, and students.
Education Department spokeswoman Margie Feinberg presents a clear position: “When you are in a leadership position in a school, you have to consider the potential downside of exposing your personal life on social media.” And detractors of Smalls, such as one long-time teacher at the high school, say it’s just another example of her poor judgment, but what do you think?
Does posting photos to Facebook and other social media outlets show such poor judgment that the poster shouldn’t be allowed to teach children or serve as a school administrator?