Facebook Flirting with Students Gets Three NYC School Employees Fired
37-year-old Chadwin Reynolds, a former teacher at Fordham High School for the Arts in the Bronx, was fired after the Department of Education learned that he had friended about a half-dozen female students on Facebook, posting comments like "This is sexy" under some of their online photos. Reynolds allegedly left status updates, which were visible to his students, like "I'm not a gynecologist, but I'll take a look inside," and even pursued one student by proffering flowers, candy and a teddy bear after wrangling her phone number. Even though the Board of Education confirmed that Reynolds had been sacked due to his online dalliances, he told the Post that his case had been thrown out, and that "the Board of Ed found that the claims were not valid."
Laurie Hirsch, 30, who had worked as a paraprofessional at Bryant High School in Queens, lost her job in May, due to a relationship with a student that went beyond Facebook flirtation. Although Hirsch claims that her affair with an 18-year-old male student began after she was indefinitely suspended for using her cell phone too often at work, an investigation was launched when photos of her kissing him surfaced on Facebook. Hirsch told the Post that the relationship began while she was suspended, but the subsequent investigation -- which revealed over 2,700 phone calls between her and the student, and that the two had sex about 10 times -- killed the possibility of getting her job back.
A substitute teacher named Stephen D'Andrilli, who worked at Essex Street Academy in Manhattan, was banned from teaching after he friended multiple female students at the school. He allegedly posted a comment on one girl's Facebook profile, saying that her "boyfriend [did not] deserve a beautiful girl like you." In a separate comment, D'Andrilli told another student that she was pretty and that he had tried to visit her during one of her classes.
The Department of Education doesn't currently have a policy against friending students in place, although it may behoove them to look into one. (Another teacher, who was not disciplined, apparently gave extra credit to students who friended him.) Regardless of whether Reynolds, Hirsch and D'Andrilli made their moves out of school, off the clock, or with students at the age of consent, there should be an obvious ethical line not to cross. Apparently, a written policy needs to be adopted by the Department of Education to spell out to school employees that flirting with students, online or offline, is not appropriate.