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Teacher Axed for Facebook Photos

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Is this okay?

Ashley Payne

A former English teacher at Appalachee High in Barrow County, Georgia, says she was forced to step down over her Facebook profile, and now she's suing.

Because her profile page contained pictures of her with beer mugs and glasses of wine from her European vacation, Ashley Payne claims her principal said she had to go.

"I visited the Guinness Brewery, I went to Italy and had wine. I went to the Temple Bar District of Dublin and drank some alcohol there like any normal adult would," said Payne. "[The pictures are] not even of me drinking the drinks, and I don't look like I'm intoxicated in any way or doing anything provocative or inappropriate."

Payne's Facebook page is private, and she says that she doesn't allow students or strangers to become her friends on the social networking site.

"I did not think that any of this could jeopardize my job because I was just doing what adults do and have drinks on vacation and being responsible about it," said Payne.

She also posted that she was headed out to play Crazy Bitch Bingo, a popular game played weekly at Joe's On Juniper in Atlanta. The principal complained she was using expletives on her page since she had used the word "bitch."

Last year, Pamela Rogers Turner, a former elementary school teacher who was prosecuted for having sex with a 13-year-old student over a three-month period, got in trouble for posting racy photos and a sexy striptease video on her MySpace page. This raised the question of whether teachers should have MySpace or Facebook pages at all.

Of course, Turner's content was WAY more racy than Payne's. Do you think Payne should have been forced to resign? And should teachers be on Facebook in the first place?

next: Sometimes All Really Is Fair in Love and War
33 comments so far | Post a comment now
jc November 14, 2009, 5:49 PM

This is about the biggest bunch of b.s I have ever heard. I hope she gets her job back with back pay.

IronicMom November 14, 2009, 7:13 PM

Decisions like these show the scrutiny that teachers face constantly. With criticism like this, is it any wonder why so many leave before finishing five years on the job? One has to wonder if this will (or should) become a lawsuit.

Lori Trosper November 15, 2009, 3:10 AM


Black Iris November 15, 2009, 7:55 AM

I think it all depends on who could see the photos. Someone must have been able to see the photos for her to get in trouble over them. If the students could see them, then it might be inappropriate.

On the other hand, telling her to take the photos down would make more sense than firing her.

shakinghead November 16, 2009, 10:21 AM

Stupid. It’s bad enough schools seem to think they reign supreme over our children in and out of school, now they think they can govern what a teacher does on their own time? BS.

Is this supposed to be a morality issue? Since when is wine immoral? Since when are children so sheltered that the knowledge that their teacher had a glass of wine will scar them forever?
Give me a break.
This is a case of an institution trying to flex their muscles. Schools need to get over themselves.

michelle November 16, 2009, 11:17 AM

Anyone else think it’s weird a teacher can be fired over a harmless facebook page, but not for being a bad teacher? Why do school boards get all exercised over behavior but have absolutely no problem with the fact that most of our kids are illiterate and innumerate compared with kids in other developed countries?

Starlights November 20, 2009, 2:02 PM

lie.. “Also, what is not being mentioned here is that this teacher quit in a rage when faced with a possible ten-day suspension”

There is a reason why there was no mention of her “quitting in a rage” because that simply is a lie and never happened. If you know anything about Miss Payne you would also know rage is not a part of her character or vocabulary. She worked hard just to get this job, the last thing she wanted was to leave it, also why she is suing to get it back by the way. She felt she had no choice being pushed into resigning by the Principal who told her quit and save her teaching certificate or be fired and lose your certificate. She was told to “you need to make a decision before you leave my office” by the Principal, that in fact did happen.

Science teacher, stop spreading lies about Miss Payne, you don’t even know her, your misguided judgments are way off and slanderous.

student December 1, 2009, 6:21 PM

oh wow who cares if your teacher drinks wine on a vacation in italy! my mom is a teacher and if she didn’t drink sometimes i think she’d of hit the looney bin a loooongg time ago. her job is stressful and she took an amazing vacation and went to a brewery drink it up sister! its not like she’s screwing a kid shes teaching, hungover in class, or anything else…i’ve had muuuch worse teachers!

JIM January 22, 2010, 2:54 PM

maybe principals shouldn’t have facebooks.

wj February 20, 2010, 1:48 PM

Im a teacher of middle schoolers and find it hypocritical that a principal and parents would ask this teacher to resign over something that is legal(not to mention that wine and beer are good for your heart) To judge an adult without first looking closely at your own moral choices in life is absurd. How many of those parents drink? Swear? How many of them take communion at church on Sundays?(Maybe we should post a pic of all of those parents and principals who partake in wine at church) We are not respected like other licensed professionals are! Double standards reign! Would you ever second guess your doctor or lawyer or even say a word if their pics were posted on facebook vacationing on some tropical island with a refreshing beverage and a little umbrella in it? Give me a break. Just because she had pics of her with a drink or even may have mentioned wine tasting in Italy to her students(which i dont think she did, im just trying to make a point) She has a right to her own life and I hope she gets every penny she deserves for being human and choosing a profession where most people would not dare to venture(even the kids’ own parents!) If you think you can do a better job then why dont you go and teach these kids(but let me warn you, most of my job isnt actually teaching….its being a nurse, a counselor, a friend, an advocate, a social worker,etc….) Let her do her job, live her life as a responsible adult and you do yours as a parent!

A Non-American Student February 24, 2010, 12:43 PM

Excuse me if I’m incorrect because I am not American, but in my country it is commonplace to see adults drink wine with their meals… at home and in public places. As such, if I meet a teacher at a restaurant and I see her drinking wine, it would be perfectly normal for me. Also, just because we are young does not quite necessarily mean that we are stupid. I know for a fact that none of my classmates would drink just because a teacher drinks, seeing as our relationship with these people is strictly for the purpose of learning. As long as I learn without my rights being abused, I don’t care what sort of LEGAL thing my teacher does.

Ten Tees January 9, 2011, 3:12 PM

Nice information. Nice reading. There’s a thing to submit about funny shirts.

jb February 6, 2011, 2:37 PM

What if the teacher didn’t post the pictures? what if a teacher was at a super bowl party, holding a beer, and someone else took a picture? How does the teacher control what other people post and tag? Am I now suppose to never drink a beer in public? This is ridiculous. I saw the story on CBS this morning. How about people spend more time being parents and less time worrying about teacher’s personal lives… maybe if some of you screwed up parents would do what you’re suppose to do, your kids wouldn’t drive me to want a drink!

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