There was a small item on Bay News 9 that caught my eye:
The Pasco County School Board has fired a high school Spanish teacher who was accused of snooping on her students’ Facebook accounts.
Angelica Cruikshank, who taught Spanish at Land O’ Lakes High School, was let go Tuesday.
Attorneys said Cruikshank wanted to see if students were talking bad about her.
She said she was trying to protect a student from being fired.
So how was she snooping? Was she just reading their public posts? If so, does that violate District policy? Or was she snooping via other means? And how did the high school become aware of the snooping? Did the teacher comment on post to a student?
It would be nice to have more details on this case.
Update: Thanks to commenter “Pete” who points us to a more detailed report in the Tampa Bay Times:
Fiorentino detailed in her letter a scenario where Cruikshank learned that some students might have made disparaging remarks about her on a Facebook page she could not access, and then she took matters into her own hands. She reportedly called a student to the front of the classroom on Jan. 30 and told the girl to sign onto her Facebook account on Cruikshank’s personal cellphone.
“Other students reported they were told in front of the class that they were not going on the class trip because of posting comments on Facebook,” Fiorentino wrote. “One of these students was so upset about being singled out in class that he sought you out during his lunch period. He gave you his phone, after signing into his Facebook account and allowed you to search through his account.”
Next, Fiorentino continued, the district investigator learned that Cruikshank gave a small group of students a list with red marks next to the names of those suspected of making comments. She asked them to review Facebook accounts and write “ok” next to those who did not write anything negative.
In the end, Fiorentino wrote, “students who were originally suspected of making comments on Facebook about you did not receive permission slips when all the other students did.”
If these allegations are true (and the teacher denies the district’s account), then I agree that this is a violation of student privacy that should result in disciplinary action. I know that some districts have attempted to discipline students for off-campus speech, claiming it is disruptive or harassing to teachers, and I would be happy to see a school asserting that the students do have a right to such privacy.