N.Y. Teacher Could Be Fired Over Controversial Facebook Post
Just a day after a 12-year-old girl drowned on a school field trip to the beach, fifth-grade teacher Christine Rubino posted a status update, implying that her students may deserve the same fate. "After today, I'm thinking the beach is a good trip for my class. I hate their guts," Rubino wrote. A friend soon commented, asking, "Wouldn't you throw a life jacket to little Kwami?" But the teacher said she wouldn't -- not even "for a million dollars."
One of Rubino's colleagues saw the post and alerted school authorities. After school investigator Richard Condon conducted a probe into the matter, Rubino was confronted, about six months after she posted the controversial status. At first, the teacher blamed the incident on a friend who had access to her account. A longtime friend later corroborated Rubino's claims, and took responsibility for the post. But school officials haven't bought her story.
Now, the teacher is in the midst of termination hearings, facing accusations of "conduct unbecoming a teacher" and witness tampering. (Rubino insists that her friend came to her defense without coercion.)
Insensitive as her comments may have been, some believe that termination would violate the teacher's right to privacy. "There's an expectation that this posting is to be shared with friends, not the general public," said Marshall Bellovin, a lawyer who specializes in teacher rights. "Therefore, any severe measure taken against a teacher, in my opinion, would be unfair."
Rubino, meanwhile, acknowledges that her post was inappropriate, but argues that it shouldn't jeopardize her 15-year teaching career. "It was something I said out of anger," Rubino told the New York Post. "I would never take my class to the beach. I would never hurt them."