Teacher's Facebook comment about student sparks controversy

Teacher's Facebook comment about student sparks controversy

POSTED: Tuesday, July 3, 2012 - 3:00pm

UPDATED: Tuesday, July 3, 2012 - 3:04pm

A Facebook controversy is brewing in Bradenton as the Manatee County School District has no written policy in place when it comes to teachers and their use of social media.

Only Bay News 9 has obtained a Facebook conversation between a group of teachers talking about at least one student and that is now gaining a lot of attention.

"I send my child to school trusting them to teach him," said Lisa Wade, whose child is the student the teachers are talking about. "Not to talk about him."

Wade is still in shock after a teacher from the G.D. Rogers Garden Elementary School in Bradenton posted a controversial comment about Wade's 8-year-old son and identified him using his initials and grade level.

"I'm disgusted with how they talked about my child," Wade said. "It hurts."

Wade saved the Facebook conversation and shared it exclusively with Bay News 9. It starts off with one teacher saying, "I'm fairly convinced that one of my students may be the evolutionary link between orangutans and humans."

Seven people liked that comment and a handful of people responded, including other teachers.

One teacher responded asking, "Please tell me who you are talking about. This made me laugh out loud."

The teacher replied by saying, "W.W. Does that help?"

That's when the school registrar, who brought this to the principal's attention, jumped in the conversation and asked, "What in the hell is that supposed to mean?"

After that question, the conversation stopped. Soon after, the entire conversation was deleted.

Wade says the principal told her she had handled the situation. On Monday, a school spokesperson says the district is sorry and it will not happen again.

"First of all, that was very inappropriate and we certainly do not condone anything like that," said Margi Nanney of the Manatee County School District.

Officials say they urge teachers to use common sense when it comes to social media. They're hoping to implement a social media policy sometime next year.

"I think lessons come hard in this life and I think social media is one of the places where people can make mistakes and we hope this never occurs again," Nanney said.

Rodney Jones of the NAACP says that to him, the incident definitely has racial undertones.

"A minimum of disciplinary, definitely retraining," Jones said. "Has to be some training opportunity and then the district has to be forward enough to develop a social media policy with enough teeth in it to keep this type of thing from happening."

Wade says she went through too much growing up for her children to have to deal with something like this.

"Growing up," Wade said. "Me myself? The things that I had to go through my child won't go through it."

And while the school board has investigated, the mother says she has retained an attorney. She says she wants at least one person held accountable.

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