News Section: Schools and Education
Parents Outraged at Teacher who Berated Student on Facebook
BRADENTON – The parent of a child attending G.D. Rogers Garden Elementary School is upset after her eight-year-old son’s teacher made an offensive comment about the student on Facebook.
The boy’s parent, Lisa Wade, told a local TV news station that she is disgusted with the teacher’s behavior and hurt by the comment.
Lauren Orban has been employed with the Manatee School District for two years. In May, she wrote on her Facebook page, “I'm fairly convinced that one of my students may be the evolutionary link between orangutans and humans."
Seven people liked the comment and a few responded, including other teachers.
One teacher asked, "Please tell me who you are talking about. This made me laugh out loud."
Orban replied, "W.W. Does that help?"
That's when the school registrar, who brought the controversy to the principal's attention, joined the conversation and asked, "What in the hell is that supposed to mean?"
After the question, the conversation stopped and was deleted shortly after.
Principal Ann Broomes verbally reprimanded Orban on a school level shortly after she learned of the comment., according to district spokesperson Margi Nanney (Broomes was unavailable for comment).
“This was a tough lesson for (Orban),” said Nanney. “Professionals in every field need to think about what they’re posting and understand that some comments can be damaging and abusive. It was a poor choice on (Orban’s) part.”
While the school has apologized and hopes to implement a social media policy next year, Wade has obtained a lawyer -- telling the station she wants "at least one person held accountable."
In October of 2010, officials considered implementing a district-wide social media policy after a Braden River High School drama teacher, Charles Willis, was suspended without pay after posting inappropriate images and comments on his Facebook page. Those plans were soon dropped after the teachers' union filed litigation challenging its constitutionality.
The policy prohibited teachers from posting anything online that is negative toward students, parents or the school district. It also required them to notify parents of any communication with students outside the classroom, whether by phone, e-mail or social networking website.
The reprimand for Willis’ actions was much worse than the one Orban received. Willis had to fight for over seven months to get his job back, eventually retaining his position, but with the loss of his tenure. The 43-year-old teacher had worked for the Manatee school district for over ten years.
Nanney says the district is unlikely to further reprimand Orban.
“We must adhere to our steps of progressive discipline policy,” Nanney said. “The first one is a verbal reprimand on a school level.”
Manatee Superintendent Tim McGonegal has said, however, that he will send the case to the Professional Practices Commission at the state's Department of Education for review.
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