Teachers & Social Media: To Post or Not To Post?

The investigation into a Facebook post made about a student by what appears to be a teacher at Airport High School continues, according to Lexington District Two officials.

The investigation began on Monday after we reported what appeared to be multiple teachers had written negatively about 18-year-old Destinie Harwell's senior photo that included her 6-month-old son.

News19 was able to get a copy of the district policy on staff conduct with students today, which states "All employees are expected to exercise good judgment and maintain professional boundaries when interacting with students, in all extracurricular activities, both on and off school property."

State education officials say these situations and policies are handled on a local level, but add that using common sense on the internet is universal.

"We have to use common sense. The rules for public engagement for public discourse remain the same whether you use social media or not," said State Department of Education Director of Public Information Dino Teppara. "Be professional, careful what say, exercise caution when you're dealing with students and if you're not sure if you should be saying it, then you probably shouldn't be saying it at all."

Teppara says a good rule of thumb is to sleep on a thought and if after 24 hours, you still feel it's worth posting then go ahead. Experts say teachers, just like everyone else, have thoughts and feelings, but making those available to students may not be the best idea.

"It humanizes teachers, which can be good in some situations, but in this case it shows maybe a negative aspect about that teacher," said Alicia Thibaudet with IT-oLogy. "They now think that that teacher is judging them or they have views that oppose theirs. Those things should be kept out of the classroom."

District officials put in writing that they can't make comments on ongoing investigations that involve distict personnel. Many agree that whatever the outcome, much can be learned from the situation.

"I think incidents like this will expand those policies and I think that more districts, if they don't have the policies now will because of this," said Thibaudet.

"It's a teachable moment, everyone can learn from it, recognize when feelings are hurt, when things were said that shouldn't have been said and we really as a community have to learn to move forward," said Teppara.

The district has not made public what they plan to do regarding the situation, but News19 will continue to follow the investigation as it continues.


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