The pictures, sent anonymously to The Advocate, showed teachers in their bathing suits holding beer bottles. Another picture showed teachers holding syringe shots apparently containing liquor.
The posting of these photos did not violate any Newark school district policy, nor did they show any illegal behavior. Many would argue there was nothing wrong with the pictures at all.
But the photos could have been viewed by students if they had been Facebook friends of the teacher who posted the photos, which still would not be a violation of school policy for Newark and other districts.
This clearly is a sticky area, since adults are free to conduct themselves as they want when off work.
At the same time, a public employer, such as a school district, certainly can expect its professional staff to represent the district well in their off-work behavior. Public displays of alcohol use certainly doesn't help convince students to refrain from the same behavior.
Even more concerning, we've too often heard of cases where teachers have been accused of improper sexual relationships with students, including situations where Facebook or text messages to student phones aided communications.
That's why we strongly urge Newark and other school districts to adopt the Granville district's strong four-part policy, including:
» Prohibiting the posting of any content that could cause disruption in the classroom.
» Prohibiting teacher-student contact through websites, social media or personal email.
» Not allowing teachers to give social media passwords to students.
» Disallowing social media access during school hours.
Many districts do allow staff-to-student electronic communication through school controlled services where district officials can track interactions. That makes perfect sense.
But there's no reason for teachers to be using Facebook or other third-party social media tools to communicate with students outside school. It's a simple policy that sends a clear message.
At the same time, we would remind everyone that when you post anything online, be certain you would want it to be seen by everyone. What happens on Facebook doesn't always stay private