A first-grade teacher in Paterson, New Jersey, has been placed on administrative leave after she posted comments on Facebook that her students are “future criminals.” Parents have removed their children from the teacher’s classroom, and the president of the Paterson branch of the NAACP has contacted Superintendent Donnie Evans:
…a resident told [the NAACP president] a teacher had written on Facebook, “I’m not a teacher. I’m a warden for future criminals.”
“First, I thought it was a joke,” said Kenneth Clayton of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s Paterson branch. “I couldn’t believe any adult would act that stupid, would have a perception of our children that’s so demeaning and negative.”
The teacher has been assigned a lawyer through the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA), New Jersey’s teachers’ union, says NJ.com.
In Chicago, another teacher has reportedly made inappropriate comments about a student. According to ABC News, 7-year-old Ukailya Lofton, a student at Overton Elementary School in Chicago, Illinois, had asked her mother to put Jolly Rancher candies at the end of her braids. Ukailya, who is described as liking math and dressing up, had seen the style in a magazine. A computer teacher apparently asked Ukailya if she could take a photo of her on her cell phone and then posted it on Facebook:
“She took a picture of me and then she said my boyfriend can’t believe this,” Ukailya told ABC7.
“She told me her teacher told her to put her hair in her face and she took out her cell phone and she took a picture, not knowing she was putting my baby on Facebook and criticize her,” said Lucinda Williams, mother.
Williams says she copied some of the comments from the teacher’s Facebook page. The teacher allegedly wrote, “right, this is for picture day.” Then someone commented,”if you are going to make your child look ridiculous, the least you can do is have them matching.” Another wrote,”yeah, this is foolishness.” And one added, “I laughed so hard that my contact popped out.”
“My mama told me she put it on Facebook and then I felt sad,” said Ukailya.
While the Chicago teacher has deleted the Facebook page, she has not apologized to Ukailya and has not been suspended. Williams has hired an attorney and is considering suing the Chicago Public Schools system.
In a post about Ukailya, Digital Life Today notes that
We’ve previously heard of more than one incident in which a teacher lost his or her job after somehow inappropriately using Facebook, but we wonder if this is less a case of a teacher overstepping boundaries and more a matter of a woman failing to remember what it’s like to be a child.
I do think that this might be the case. However, teachers are in a position of responsibility and Facebook, while used by so many to exchange personal information and to communicate, is a very public space. The Paterson School District did the right thing to place the teacher who described her first-graders as “future criminals” on administrative leave. Of course teachers will talk about their students, but their are other places to do such.
At the very least, the Chicago School District computer school teacher owes Ukailya an apology.
Photo by west.m.