High school teacher June Talvitie-Siple is now unemployed, thanks to Facebook comments that she thought would only reach her small group of Facebook friends.
When June Talvitie-Siple described students as “germ bags” and parents as “arrogant” and “snobby,” she thought she was only posting to 50 Facebook friends and family members. Unfortunately for her, the district superintendent and school committee found out about her Facebook comments and asked her to resign.
Yet, as Talvitie-Siple told CBS News, many of these comments were taken out of context. When she referred to students as “germ bags,” she was referring to the fact that she was sick for most of the year and that the comment was meant to be taken as a joke. As for her comments about the parents, she was referring to conflicts among the teachers’ union, school committee, and community as a whole.
June Talvitie-Siple Loses Job Over Facebook Comments: Punishment Worse than the Crime?
I’m of two minds on this. On the one hand, most people are aware of precautions surrounding Internet safety. We know not to give out personal information to strangers, not to reveal personal information on our Facebook profiles, and to utilize the privacy settings on social networking sites.
And Talvitie-Siple has learned the hard way that, in the context of Facebook, some things are better left unsaid. If you have to vent about work or your personal life, do it in person with your friends (preferably friends who don’t work in your field) or over the phone. In this information age, anything you say can and will be used against you, out of context or not. Even with heavy privacy settings, you just never know who is leaking your information.
On the other hand, it seems a bit unfair that June Talvitie-Siple had to lose her job for comments that she made while she was not working, things that did not directly pertain to her job performance. All of us have complained about coworkers or clients at one point. Who’s to say that other teachers at that school weren’t thinking more incendiary thoughts about their working environment?
If this teacher had regularly displayed an attitude of disdain toward the students and parents, then firing her would have been somehow justifiable. However, if these were innocent and isolated comments taken out of context, then her punishment seems far worse than the crime.
Facebook Faux Pas Leads to Teacher Losing Job, CBS News