Elementary school teacher fired over racist Facebook post

The controversy surrounding the McKinney, Texas pool party cost an elementary school teacher her job last week, after the teacher’s racist Facebook post went viral.

Just in case you didn’t see the story: police responded to a call following an altercation at a pool in McKinney, Texas.  Officer Eric Casebolt resigned after footage emerged of him charging into the scene, pinning a 14 year old African-American girl on her back and drawing his gun on unarmed teenagers. The incident allegedly followed a fist fight that was provoked by a fight between black teens and white residents, as well as the use of racially charged language by the residents.

As has sadly become commonplace for incidents like this, people took to social media and vented their racist feelings.  One such person was Karen Fitzgibbons, an elementary school teacher in Lubbock, Texas.  Fitzgibbons wrote the following:

karen fitzgibbons

Gotta appreciate that the hashtag #imnotracist was used with no irony.

The post became national news, and Fitzgibbons was relieved of her duties. In a statement, the Frenship Independent School District said:

“Frenship ISD is deeply disappointed in the thoughtlessness conveyed by this employee’s post. We find these statements to be extremely offensive, insensitive, and disrespectful to our Frenship community and citizens everywhere. These comments in no way represent the educational environment we have created for our students.
The employee whose account is responsible for the post will be relieved of her teaching duties at Frenship ISD.”

In subsequent interviews, FISD staff pointed to their social media policy, which specifically prohibited use of any social networking platforms that could interfere with the employee’s ability to perform their job duties:

“If an employee’s use of electronic media interferes with the employee’s ability to effectively perform his or her job duties, the employee is subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment.”

Unsurprisingly, Fitzgibbons resigned shortly thereafter.  She also released a statement in which she apologized for her comments.

This case is obviously sad all around.  From a governmental perspective, the Frenship Independent School District was prepared – their social media policy clearly stated that the language used by Fitzgibbons, even though it was made on her own personal time, was not acceptable.  This entire case goes to reiterate the need for every governmental entity to have a strong social media policy that will prepare them for instances such as this.

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