Teacher-in-training Stacy Snyder brought suit against Millersville University, alleging that she was denied her teaching credential because of a picture of herself as a “drunken pirate” on her MySpace page. Snyder is claiming her First Amendment rights were violated, according to ABC News.
Citing unsatisfactory performance and unprofessional behavior, university officials said they would have denied Snyder a degree regardless of the photo. The photo, which officials say promoted underage drinking, was “the straw that broke the camel’s back.”
Snyder’s suit, which is scheduled to go to trial on Tuesday, raises questions about teachers’ accountability to students—inside and outside the classroom. Some school districts have begun crafting policies to regulate the virtual lives of their employees, ABC News reports. “Teachers are also considered role models,” said Nora Carr, a spokeswoman for a North Carolina school district that is at work on such a policy.
The risk of having online profiles has prompted teachers associations and school district lawyers to caution teachers about what they put online. The Washington Post recently reported on a wave of teacher profiles featuring content that could be deemed inappropriate by administrators and parents, including strong sexual content, profanity, and discriminatory language.