Archived Story

Facebook post causes teacher trouble

Published 8:37pm Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Social media has opened a world of communication for its users, but the undefined question of “How much information is too much information?” is about to be answered for one Suffolk Public Schools teacher.

Jennifer Miguel has been on leave with pay since early November, five months after she posted information about the passing and failing of students in one of her classes on Facebook.

“I do believe that I did something wrong, but I don’t believe it’s something that I should lose my career over,” Miguel said. “I would resign in a second if I had hit a child, but I don’t feel that this is something to lose my career over. I love my job, the interaction I have with them and being a part of their lives.”

Miguel has worked for the Suffolk Public Schools system for five years and is the theater teacher and Advanced Placement and senior English teacher at King’s Fork High School. She previously taught for five years in Portsmouth and New York City schools.

In July, Miguel posted a comment on her Facebook page with the names of students who passed her AP class and the one student who failed the class.

There were no percentages or grades attached to the comment, and the student who failed the course was already enrolled in summer school, Miguel added.

She said she posted the comment because of her excitement from her students doing so well. It was her first year teaching an AP course.

She had been in conversation with the failing student throughout the school year on his performance in her class, she added.

The students who could view Miguel’s comments are mostly former students or current theater students, whom she often communicates with regarding theater through Facebook, she said.

In September, the mother of the student who failed the class was told about the comment by her child, who found out through a friend, Miguel said.

The mother brought the issue to school administration, and Miguel was subsequently asked to collect her things, was put on paid administrative leave and was told by administration that it would push for her termination due to two instances of poor judgment, Miguel said.

The previous incident occurred at the end of the 2009-10 school year, when Miguel used a racially derogatory word out loud in the classroom. The comment was not directed toward an individual, Miguel said, but was overheard by a student.

Miguel was suspended without pay for three days during the summer for that incident.

School administrators will hold a fact-finding hearing on Miguel’s case. That hearing will include the School Board attorney, Miguel, her representative and an impartial third party.

In her absence, Miguel’s classes have been taught by a substitute teacher. Her after-school theater program has been shut down.

Miguel’s husband, Russell Miguel, made an appeal to the Suffolk School Board at its Nov. 8 board meeting.

“She will sacrifice everything for her students,” he said. “So much so, that our most common arguments are how much time and money she spends on her classroom, her theater program and her kids.”

“When this issue is voted on … please remember this,” he added. “If my wife is no longer allowed to teach, you will be destroying her entire life, and she may never recover.”

School administration declined to comment or provide additional information due to confidentiality of personnel matters.

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  • MRSKELLY02

    THAT’S THE KEY WORD KIDS.GROWNUPS SHOULD KNOW BETTER.AND JUST BECAUSE THE N WORD IS USED AMONG THE KIDS STILL DON’T MAKE IT RIGHT FOR HER TO SAY IT. NOR AS A TEACHER SHOULD IT EVEN CAME OUT HER MOUTH.BY THIS BEING HER SECOND SCREW UP(SHE GOT AWAY FOR USING THE N WORD)SHE’S GOING TO SUFFER FOR HER ACTIONS THIS TIME.TEACHERS ARE HELD IN SUCH HIGH STANDARDS AND IF SHE SAY OR DO ANYTHING BELOW THAT THAN SHE NEEDS TO FIND A NEW PROFESSION

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  • TB_suffolklady

    AP scores, as are any scores, a matter of privacy. AP scores in particular are not to be released to the public until noted to do so by the state…….and no teacher should use the n word, or any type of unprofessional language, at all. Any unprofessional talk of any kind in front of students is completely unacceptable.

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  • Lovebug

    She could have easily just posted a congrats to those who passed! I don’t see the need to list names and I certainly don’t feel that teachers should be “friends” with their students. They are teachers and should not allow that line to be crossed. I agree that they need to have a good relationship with their students but out of school things such as “facebook” should not go on.

    Facebook is NOT for kids. As a matter of fact you are suppose to be of a certain age to even have a facebook account. Facebook was orig. for College students and above (adults) and NOT for kids. There are far more adults on facebook than there are kids. Some on here need to do some research on facebook.

    This teacher using the “n” word is not a good thing on her part but I do question “who” can use the “n” word and it be okay? I have been in the hallway at the schools and the “n” word is heard very often when the students are switching classes. Are they going to lose out on their education because THEY say the “n” word? I think not so why should it play a roll in this woman’s job? I personally believe the word should NOT be said by anyone but it is so why not punish anyone who says it? Is this teacher white? I assume so since she is being hammered for saying the word.

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    • am

      Lovebug, I agree with you. A simple GENERIC congrats to those who passed the class and/or the AP exam would have been quite sufficient. I also agree with you that teachers and current students (or those still in the high school setting) should not be friends on facebook. SPS has other settings (blogs, Edmodo) for teachers to use to interact with their students.
      As far as the “n” word is concerned, I try to discourage its use whenever possible. If you don’t want me to use it towards you, then I don’t want to hear you use it towards anyone either. Yes, I understand that it used “casually” by some, but not when you’re in my room.

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      • Lovebug

        AM….A simple generic congrats is all that is needed then again that is not even needed (on facebook) if you are conducting yourself like you should and not have your students as your friends.

        The language thing has always killed me. I agree, the teacher should not be using that language however, she should not lose her job over a one time slip of the word. Like I said before I’m in the schools quite a bit and when the kids are switching classes that word along with every word in the cursing dictionary is flying through the hallways. The kids don’t seem to mind it coming out of the mouths of other kids yet when a grown up slips up and says something the kids scream foul.

        I don’t personally know this teacher but I have heard good things about her and I don’t feel like she should lose her job over this. I say lesson learned now let her get back to teaching. We all make mistakes. She needs to play on Facebook with her grown up friends and family like the rest of us and watch her mouth around kids.

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  • joanip01

    She is really STUPID…. and doesn’t deserve to keep her job or be a teacher “if” that’s how she feels.

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  • TB_suffolklady

    She used the n word in class prior to this, and her language has been inappropriate with students as well. This was probably the nail in the coffin.

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  • lilyrose

    Facebook is for kids, not adults. Silly woman. If she was going to post anything then it just should have mention those who passed and said nothing about the student who failed. If his name was missing then maybe those reading who knew him could have thought it was just ommited. Facebook is not sanctioned by the school board to post things about your students. Regarding the racial comment not being directed at anyone it does not matter. She had no business saying it.

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  • walle

    What was posted or not posted, teachers should not even have communication with students through facebook. It is just a line that should not be crossed.

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    • So What

      Agreed 100%
      May all have a great Thanksgiving with family,friends, and loved ones. Dont forget those who cant be here at home with their families, friends and loved ones.They ask for so little but give so much.

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  • am

    A child’s grades are personal information and should NEVER be released without the approval of those involved. If a student wants to post his/her AP score and/or final class grade, that is a different matter since that is the decision of the individual student.

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    • suffolklady

      You are so right, am. In my opinion, grades are as personal as medical information.

      It is unprofessional for ANY person to post information, negative or otherwise, about their job on Facebook.

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