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*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.

'Merry Christmas'

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.

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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?

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ShaynaLeah ShaynaLeah 4 years 29 weeks
I agree with PinkNC --- It is truly disturbing situation. The teacher was foolish in posting as she did, but it sounds like she did not receive the support necessary from her administration to stop the harassment of her students. I hope that the base issues of ignorance and intolerance are not lost in the witch hunt that seems to be brewing.
PinkNC PinkNC 4 years 30 weeks
I'm with you Betty....I've already said that these kids were in the wrong - so you are NOT alone. They wanted to upset their teacher and they did so. That's not how religious people are supposed to work. And no you are not alone when it comes to your feeling about the parents either. I also stated that the parents defending these horrible children claiming that it was all the teachers fault, is just insane. Many parties are guilty here....the kids, the teacher, and the principle for not handling this situation before it got out of hand. It was said that the teacher would send these children to the office for disrupting class and obviously the principles didn't do anything about their horrible behavior. The office help most likely just sat the students somewhere in the office or in the detention room until the bell rung, then the students were sent to another class, knowing their bad behavior was most likely going to happen again the next day. Again, Many parties are guilty here....the kids, the teacher, and the principle for not handling this situation before it got out of hand.
Bettye-Wayne Bettye-Wayne 4 years 30 weeks
I guess I'm the only one who thinks this, but... I doubt these kids are true Christians. They're punk asses who want to give their teacher a hard time. If my little girl ever pulls a stunt like that, you better believe I'm not going to buy any of that good-intentions crap. They have a right to be upset about the teacher's actions, but shame on them for standing up for their children's rude behavior. That being said, UnDave I agree with you, she is absolutely wrong. Did she report the incident to administrators before the parents complained about her Facebook? I couldn't tell from the article.
UnDave35 UnDave35 4 years 31 weeks
IMO - The teacher is way in the wrong. Regardless of how innappropriate the kids were, it should remain at school or with the kid's parents. To go home and bad mouth the community is incredibly unprofessional.
PinkNC PinkNC 4 years 31 weeks
"Somehow I suspect a pushy parent behind that stunt" I believe the same *Cheeky*
cheekyredhead cheekyredhead 4 years 31 weeks
It seems obvious that everyone in question had ruffled feathers about religion. Even if the children were well-intentioned by leaving a Bible on her desk--it was a poor decision. It seems obvious that they knew it would make her uncomfortable--therefore it was deliberate. The teacher...was irresponsible putting such comments in public view. I am aware some people use FB to vent...but vent in a private forum not a public one. She should be disciplined. On some level this saddens me. This smacks of political correctness which annoys me--and reveals that even children are subjected to "political" correctness which just turns my stomach. What happened to freedom of religion? It has gone full circle. We are not free to discuss religion in school. I suppose I expect a teacher to have a more open view and consider every-one's perspectives to teach the most important lesson--permissiveness. By drawing the line in the sand she made her class an enemy zone. Her kids reacted. She reacted. Nobody rose above the fray to look at permissiveness. It is a sad day in America when our basic rights have become a battle ground. This whole incident reveals that even learned minds sometimes cannot get past their own views to be permissive of others. The children...I cannot believe they came up with the idea to leave that bible all on their own. Maybe I am not giving those kids enough credit. Somehow I suspect a pushy parent behind that stunt.
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 4 years 31 weeks
Wow, first of all I'd like to know what discussions she's been having with her class that would prompt her student/students to leave a Holy Bible on her desk. Secondly when are people in these positions going to learn that when your Facebook/MySpace account is set to public or everyone that means any one can see it.....Hellooo! I find her personal opinions completely mellow dramatic and her title of teacher extremely generous. Her response to the situation was nothing short of adolecent. I have no problem with Teachers taking issue with problem children, it's (how) they take issue with them that I may have a problem with.
PinkNC PinkNC 4 years 31 weeks
I think students that are disrupting class or annoying their teachers TOO much, should have in school detention until they are able to act appropriately. The parents should be contacted immediately. And the teachers should always be reminded that their school district does have a code of ethics for employees that applies to social networking. The code is to protect the employee, the students, and the reputation of the school.
PinkNC PinkNC 4 years 31 weeks
That's why I stated in my first comment that "I believe both parties were in the wrong" But there is an even bigger problem when the parents won't admit to anyone, even themselves, that their children were wrong by what they did to their teacher over a long period of time. And the teacher should have complained to a higher authority through the school system and she should have vented to HER family or friends through a more private email. But again, I understand her anger being that she was being mistreated for so long by her students and that the school was apparently ignoring her feelings on the manner.
snarkypants snarkypants 4 years 31 weeks
the teacher has a right to complain...to the proper authorities!!! you just don't put stuff like that on facebook. it's just dumb.
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 4 years 31 weeks
I think the students were quite rude and presumptuous, BUT the teacher was just as immature and ignorant. Both Fail
genesisrocks genesisrocks 4 years 31 weeks
I think everyone's wrong. Wrong for the students to be harassing her, wrong for her to gripe on her facebook page.
PinkNC PinkNC 4 years 31 weeks
Oh, and....... If the teacher is teaching class about a particular subject and the students don't want to join in but instead wants her to talk about "God in creation during the revolution" then yes, she should send them straight to the office like she already has done, IF they are disrupting class time and slowing things down. Once the teacher states to a student that it's not the direction that she wants to go into during the lesson, then they should leave it alone and follow directions and do the classwork as she has instructed them to do...this should be with ANY subject that's being taught for the day in any classroom with any teacher. And of course the teacher has the right to be upset because the children blurt out that she's a "Jesus hater" because they're not getting what they want. You cannot tell this teacher to never become upset, even for just a day or until she finally vents about it one good time. It's like with Atheist.....you cannot tell them how to think and feel and if they disagree with your ways then they are immoral and unholy and should be damned to Hell........and until that damnation time, they will just have to put up with your crappy behavior towards them.
PinkNC PinkNC 4 years 31 weeks
I just added to the story if you want to go back and read more details about the events *Snarky* And I believe both parties were in the wrong. She should deleted her friends comments about what to do with her students and a Dale Earnhart poster. I understand her anger. Just like I understand that these Christian students didn't like her because they ignorantly assumed that she was most likely Muslim and a terrorist. And I also understand that these Christian parents will NEVER believe that their children were in the wrong for what they were doing to their teacher on a daily basis. The teach does have the right to complain if her students are reading the Bible during class time when they should be working. The parents should NOT complain when they see their child's grades drop. They're not doing any work therefore they should not make the best grade....obviously. If the teacher says nicely not to place anything on her desk then they should listen. These Christian kids wanted to make her mad and possibly have her suspended. Now they have what they want and these kids are most likely bragging about it too. I think it's foul behavior and bad parenting.
snarkypants snarkypants 4 years 31 weeks
pink, i think she's being suspended for HER behavior. a teacher should not write disparaging remarks on a public forum. in fact, her school probably has a policy against it. my sister is a teacher, and she had to set her facebook profile on private (like you can't find her if you search for her, she has to add you as a friend in order to find her, etc.). the students were wrong for doing what they did, but she's stupid for posting it on the internet