A New Hampshire substitute teacher is ending her 35-year career because she opposes her school’s social media policy.
Carol Thebarge, 79, recently took to Facebook to announce that she was leaving her job after being told by administrators that she had to unfriend students on Facebook.
“Today will be my last day at Stevens High,” Thebarge wrote last week. “I was given an ultimatum. To either delete every student from my facebook , and do not post pictures of them ( they always loved this ) or be terminated. [sic]”
Thebarge noted that administrators first asked her to unfriend students from Facebook several years ago. However, after students started asking why they were deleted, she simply hid her friends list so that school officials could not see it. She eventually reversed her decision to hide the list, and she said officials had left her alone about the issue until recently.
"The students have loved my site," Thebarge wrote in her post. "I have loved to share pictures of the cats, my grandchildrens' achievements, and the wisdom I have gained throughout my journey."
Administrators took renewed interest in Thebarge’s Facebook after another teacher at the school, Christopher LeBlanc, was arrested for having an inappropriate relationship with a student, according to the New Hampshire Union Leader. The school’s social media policy does not allow for teachers to be friends with students on Facebook.
Claremont School District superintendent Middleton McGoodwin told the outlet that he asked Thebarge to reconsider her decision to leave but stressed she would have to comply with the rules.
"In truth, being a caring, lovely woman doesn't give you immunity to ignore a school board policy that's designed to protect everyone," he told the outlet.
WBZ-TV notes that some students were trying to get the sub her job back.
"She wasn't harming anybody," student Kayla Jennison told the station. "She was a great person and always helped us."
On Facebook, Thebarge later said she was not asked to reconsider. She also thanked the members of the community for their support.
“I honor the comments that disagree with this difficult decision , for I also recognize the inherent dangers within social networking,” Thebarge wrote in a Facebook post. “But I further recognize that the blanket policy intended to protect the children, also holds the subtle message that 'all' teachers cannot be trusted to communicate with their students outside the classroom.”
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