*A Possible* Non-Christian teacher suspended after Facebook comments. Right or wrong?
Published: February 16, 2010
A Wake County middle school teacher has been suspended following complaints about disparaging comments she made about her class, Christianity and Southern culture on her Facebook page.
Melissa Hussain, an eighth-grade teacher at West Lake Middle School in Apex, wrote on her Facebook page that it was a “hate crime” that students left a Bible on her desk and how she “was able to shame her kids” over the incident. Her Facebook page included comments from friends saying that the parents of Hussain’s students were “bigoted, stupid and uncaring.”
Some parents were angry that she was allowed to stay in the classroom, leading them to complain to school board members on Friday. Hussain was later told to leave her classroom on Friday and is not back at the school.
Greg Thomas, a Wake schools’ spokesman, said Hussain has been suspended with pay. But he said he couldn’t discuss the reason for the suspension because of employee confidentiality rules. School administrators say they are still investigating the situation.
Her Facebook page included comments from friends about "ignorant southern rednecks,"
"I don't defend what the kids were doing," said Murray Inman, a parent one of Hussain's students. "I just couldn't imagine an educator, or a group of educators, engaging in this kind of dialogue about kids."
Hussain did not return calls and e-mail messages Monday.
Teachers across the nation have been suspended or fired because of questionable material posted on their Facebook pages and other online social networking sites.
In 2008, seven Charlotte-Mecklenburg school employees were disciplined and at least one person was fired because of Facebook postings. That led to a memo going to all Charlotte-Mecklenburg school staff warning that offensive postings to social networking sites are grounds for termination or disciplinary action.
The Wake school district doesn't have a policy on the use of social networking sites, Thomas said. But the district does have a code of ethics for employees that the school spokesman says applies to social networking. The code says employees' conduct "should be such as to protect both the person's integrity and/or reputation and that of the school system."
Picture of Jesus
In Hussain's case, the comments in question were on the public side of her Facebook page. She has since limited public access.
Parents of children in Hussain's class said they first learned about the comments last month, leading them to complain to the school three weeks ago.
Parents said the situation escalated after a student put a postcard of Jesus on Hussain's desk that the teacher threw in the trash. Parents also said Hussain sent to the office students who asked about the role of God in creation during a lesson about evolution .
On her Facebook page, Hussain wrote about students spreading rumors that she was a Jesus hater. She complained about her students wearing Jesus T-shirts and singing "Jesus Loves Me." She objected to students reading the Bible instead of doing her work.
But Annette Balint, whose daughter is in Hussain's class, said the students have the right to wear those shirts and sing "Jesus Loves Me," a longtime Sunday school staple. She said the students were reading the Bible during free time in class.
"She doesn't have to be a professing Christian to be in the classroom," Balint said. "But she can't go the other way and not allow God to be mentioned."
Hussain, a 2004 Florida State University graduate, has been a Wake teacher since 2006. Her religious affiliation is not posted on her Facebook page.
The flash point for the comments came after the Bible was left on Hussain's desk in December. The Bible was accompanied by an anonymous card, which, according to Hussain, said "'Merry Christmas' with Christ underlined and bolded." She said there was no love shown in giving her the Bible.
"I can't believe the cruelty and ignorance of people sometimes," Hussain wrote on her Facebook page.
Hussain also said she wouldn't let the Bible incident "go unpunished."
Her friends soon joined the discussion about the situation. The one who suggested Hussain's "getting even" by bringing the swastika-marred Earnhardt poster to class said it would be "teaching" students a lesson.
"And without a job," Hussain responded. "But I like it!"
Hussain's comments also included one where she complained that she "hates" parents who complain about their child's first B in middle school. She said her husband suggested she start a blog "based on ridiculous students and their parents."
Balint said it was clear to the class that Hussain was talking about her daughter. "I feel violated that she would say those things," she said.
The length of the investigation is frustrating parents.
"My biggest concern is whether the resentment between the students and the teacher will continue for the rest of the school year," said Robert Boretti, whose child is in Hussain's class.
Now here is PinkNC's thoughts:
I personally believe these kids were knowingly being rude to her - just trying to set her off because of her last name (Hussain) and the assumption of her religion because of it, which they assume is NOT Christian like theirs.
Hussain = Equals Muslim or terrorist..........NOT in PinkNC's opinion!
So tell PinkNC.........
Here's the question: Is it right for the teacher to be suspended because of her students behavior - when they cruelly set her off intentionally?