Given the multitude of stories over public employees getting into trouble for tweets and other social media comments related to the tragedy in Ferguson, Missouri, you would really think that people would have learned to not say racist things about the situation. However, the stories continue, as a teacher in Texas is was forced to resign due to a racist tweet she made about the situation.
This story features Vinita Hegwood, an English teacher near Dallas. Last week, Hegwood sent out this tweet: “Who the [expletive] made you dumb duck [expletive] crackers think I give a squat [expletive] about your opinions about my opinions RE: Ferguson? Kill yourselves.”
So…about that English….
Unsurprisingly, Lari Barager, a spokeswoman for the Duncanville Independent School District condemned the tweet:
I can’t say it emphatically enough. The nature of the comments are reprehensible. Those comments having been made in such a public way left the district no other option.
That no other option was to suspend Hegwood, without pay, pending a firing, which Barager called “pretty much a certain outcome.” According to other accounts, Hegwood wasn’t shy about using offensive terms in her Twitter feed, repeatedly using the n-word and “retard” in her tweets.
Reading the writing on the wall, Hegwood resigned. In a statement released through her union, Hegwood said that the tweet came as a response to a series of threats based on previous tweets about Ferguson. She said:
My reaction in no way reflects the standards to which I have held myself and my students for the last 20 years of teaching. I accept full responsibility for my actions, and I regret the embarrassment that it has caused the school district.
I’ve said it before and I will say it again: public officials are, and should be, held to a higher standard, and that standard probably grows even higher with teachers. I’m not quite sure what Hegwood was thinking, but based on the information available to me, Duncanville is clearly justified in firing Ms. Hegwood. This is racism, vulgarity and poor judgement, and someone who sends out a tweet like this should not be in a classroom.
What are your thoughts? Is Duncanville justified? Let me know in the comments!
And, don’t forget, you can now buy my book: Tweets & Consequences: 60 Social Media Disasters in Politics and How You Can Avert a Career-Ending Mistake