Land O' Lakes High School Spanish teacher Angelica Cruikshank was fired in September after a nearly eight-month battle to keep her job.
The reason: Cruikshank "improperly gained access to students' Facebok accounts in an attempt to verify whether these students had made comments about (Cruikshank) on Facebook, shared the information (Cruikshank) obtained with other students, and then attempted to use this information to prohibit these students from attending an upcoming class trip to the Salvador Dali Museum," according to a Feb. 17 letter from Superintendent Heather Fiorentino.
But it was student who brought the private group page to her attention, and other students had brought cheating on the social media site to her attention before the incident occured that cost Cruikshank her job, Cruikshank said.
According to public record, student and parent complaints documented by the district went beyond the Facebook page access. But Cruikshank's firing was based entirely on accessing that page on Jan. 30 and the allegations of withholding field trip attendance as a consequence to those the district said she believed made negative comments on the "secret group" page.
Did the board make the right decision? Or might Cruikshank's termination based on her access to the Facebook page tie teachers' hands in future instances when students report bullying, cheating or other inappropriate online behavior?
Since the social networking site can be accessed by students from their phones while on campus, do teachers have the right to ask for access to a page if there is cause for concern, such as cheating, libel or bullying? Or should the students' posts on the networking site be off limits to teachers and administrators in every case?
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