Chad Denker is the Principal at Seward Senior High School in Seward, Nebraska. Mr. Denker has been chosen Nebraska High School Principal of the Year by the Nebraska Association of Secondary School Principals. Mr. Denker has been principal at Seward High School for six years and was principal at Kimball High School in Nebraska.
Last Week’s What would you do?
A California teacher has been fired for posting topless photos and other sexually suggestive pictures of herself on Facebook. Although the pictures were not posted during contract time, she did use the school owned computer to post them. The pictures have been accessed by students in school during school time. The pictures have since been removed. What would you have done?
Several issues to consider. School district policy is always important and probably never more evident than in this case. If it is as stated a school issued computer and is school property, there should be a policy in place that states something about appropriate use of school equipment and the right of the school to view/monitor the use of that computer. Usually just having such material stored on a computer will violate school policy. Every school should have such a policy and it should be communicated to all employees. At the very least it is inappropriate use of the computer. Using a school computer for illegal or immoral purposes could be grounds for immediate dismissal.
The likely bigger issue is how the computer was used. The article indicates that topless pictures were shared via that computer and that certainly should violate school rules/district policies. In Kansas it would quite likely be interpreted as promoting obscenity and that is against the law. KSDE can deny a license or deny renewal of a license for any person who is convicted of promoting obscenity based on Kansas Statute Annotated 21-4301. Defining obscenity is a little difficult for a district and they would certainly want to make sure they were on solid ground before using this approach. Putting nude pictures on the internet can violate Federal statues and that would further strengthen the district case for dismissal. While the National Geographic example may work in California, the values and standards of most Kansas communities would cause a topless picture to be considered pornographic.
Next Week’s What would you do?
A high school English and journalism teacher failed to censor her students’ creative writing
assignments even though some of her students used profanity in their work. After several complaints and three conferences with the teacher about not enforcing the district’s “no profanity” rule and the right of teachers and students to express themselves in classroom exercises, the school principal recommended termination of the teacher for violating the school’s “no-profanity” rule, which had, until this principal was hired, traditionally not been applied to classroom exercises. The teacher sued, alleging a violation of her First Amendment rights. What would you do?