Oh, no, not again!!
From the newpaper story:
Knox County Schools security officials have turned over partially nude Internet pictures of an elementary school teacher to the district’s human resources administrators.I have so many reactions, I am not sure where to start.
School security chief Steve Griffin said this morning that his department scoured the Web after they received information Friday relating to photographs of Inskip Elementary School teacher Melinda England.
“We found these pictures of her at various sites,” Griffin said this morning.
England described herself as a 28-year-old woman, who has a daughter, according to her profile, he said.
One photograph shows England shirtless, her left hand covering her right breast and her left breast is in the crook of her left elbow.
Another picture shows her lying on her stomach, face down, wearing black panties. Her bare back is visible.
Human resources officials are looking into the matter.
Inskip administrators on Friday sent a letter home to parents alerting them of the situation.
The letter, written by assistant principal Patricia Moore, states that at this time, “we have no allegations or any information that would indicate that Ms. England has done anything inappropriate during school time or in her relationship with students.”
The letter also notes that teachers maintain their First Amendment rights, but there are provisions in Tennessee law that address unprofessional behavior by teachers.
“If the superintendent believes a teacher has acted in an unprofessional manner he may take any action from the level of a verbal reprimand all the way through initiating termination proceedings,” the letter states.
First, the fact that the Schools Security Chief is in charge of policing the actions of school employees in their private lives is simply disturbing. Given that there are real security concerns out there, surely the taxpayer funds spent on his salary and his staff could be better spent than surfing the web looking for nude pictures.
Second, this woman has not apparently violated any laws. She has probably shown more skin at the beach than she does in the photos. She has a right to live her non-school life the way she wants. What she has done is not immmoral, illegal or in any way degrades her ability to do her job.
Third, how is unprofessional defined by Tennessee law. I am sure it is pretty vague. Is drinking unprofessional? Drinking is legal (so long as the person is over 21 and not driving). Is swearing unprofessional? It is free speech. I can see a limit on foul language at work, but if a person is on the street and their car breaks down, they have a right to drop the F-bomb. Is having sex with lots of consulting adults unprofessional? Assuming it isn't happening in public, there is no law against it. Is having naked pictures of oneself on display immoral? It may be lacking in common sense, but it is not immoral or unprofessional--assuming they aren't taken on school grounds.
Fourth, who gets to determine what is unprofessional. The Superintendent? What gives him/her the power to do so? The possibility of arbitrariness is quite great.
Hey, if you want to post naked pictures of yourself, go right ahead. There may be consequences, but the problem is that it is hard to say it is unprofessional. I may be void of common sense but it shouldn't be enough to void your employment.