Houston County school officials were expected to put several teachers on administrative leave Monday in response to a controversy that erupted when a group of texts among teachers was published to Facebook by a student last week.
It’s a sticky wicket for administrators. The brief transcript of group text — a conversation among several teachers — would raise eyebrows, as some of the discussion centered on which student pregnancies, speculation about the fathers, and derogatory remarks about students and other teachers. In other words, topics not unlike what many groups of friends might discuss privately.
There’s the rub. Those teachers now on the hot seat had an expectation that their conversation was private. That changed when one teacher let a student borrow her phone, and later a copy of part of the conversation appeared on Facebook, where it was viewed several thousand times and shared among others.
It’s disappointing to learn that those entrusted with our community’s children and their education would speak of them in such terms. It should be a great embarrassment to the teachers, and to the school system. The teachers’ futures are in jeopardy; at the very least they have lost credibility and effectiveness in the schools to which they are assigned.
However, it’s important not to lose sight of the fact that these teachers are victims of what may well be a crime. The student who stole the information from the teacher’s phone and then published it online, sparking this controversy and abetting the ruination of several professional careers, may well have committed a crime in doing so.
We certainly don’t condone the teachers’ action. They should know better, and their poor judgment is at the heart of this controversy.
But as they move to address this unfortunate event fairly, school officials must address every aspect of the matter, including the original poster and other students and school employees who may have further disseminated the information.