A Florida public school district is investigating an atheist teacher who wrote disparaging remarks about her students on a Facebook page for local atheists, claiming the students harassed and teased her by inviting her to church.
Karen Tucker, a spokeswoman for Bay District Schools, said school policy doesn't allow teachers to criticize students either in person or on an Internet page, and Human Resources is investigating, The Walton Sun reports.
Susan Creamer is an atheist and teaches at Merritt Brown Middle School in Panama City.
"There is a bevy of boys in one of my classes who are taking turns either inviting me to their church or leaving (anonymously) flyers inviting me to church events," Creamer wrote on the Atheists of Bay County's private Facebook page. "Today, I found one on the A/V cart I use for a podium."
She continued, "Every time any child sneezes, they loudly say 'God bless you!' and look in my direction. I have complained twice to my principal – one last month and once today. She has spoken privately to one or two of the little cretins, but it seems to do NO GOOD. I am feeling bullied and harassed. It has become intolerable. I don't feel like talking with the parents will stop the inappropriate behaviors because, for all I know, the parents are encouraging them."
It was a closed Facebook group, but that makes little difference, Tucker said, explaining that a group member took and somehow distributed a screen shot.
"I don't think it matters, because eventually someone else is going to see it posted, which is what happened. People were re-posting. If you said things on there, which she did, about students, no, I don't think it matters," Tucker was quoted as saying.
"Teachers are encouraged and trained, to keep clear boundaries between their personal and professional lives to ensure that the classroom remains a neutral and supportive environment," a statement by the school district reads. "This training and related School Board policy includes guidelines for interactions on all social media platforms including, but not limited to, Facebook. We do not condone the use of disparaging comments about our students in any form, on any social media platform or in any school."
Tucker added, "Our students are protected," and that remarks against students cannot be tolerated. "If that happens it violates all kinds of things, (including) the code of ethics from the Department of Education."
A complaint against Creamer sent by a parent to the school states, "First and foremost she should not be discussing her religious preferences (or lack thereof) with any of these students. Had she not been proudly boasting of her atheism these children would not know of her personal beliefs and I would not be addressing this situation. Secondly, as an adult in a professional occupation her choice of words to describe her students is completely unprofessional and completely out of line. Third, for her to seek out suggestions from a group on social media of how to handle her students (my children) has me outraged?"