Teacher fired for uploading “outrageous” photo to Facebook

With a pint of beer in one hand and a glass of wine in the other, the worst thing you could accuse Ashley Payne of is mixing her drink.

But this happy holiday picture has cost the high school teacher her job after a parent spotted it on Facebook – and complained.

The picture was taken while travelling around Europe in the summer of 2009.

But Miss Payne, 24, was shocked when she was summoned to the principal’s office at Apalachee High School, in Winder, Georgia, and offered an ultimatum.
She told CBS News: ‘He just asked me, “Do you have a Facebook page?”

‘And you know, I’m confused as to why I am being asked this, but I said, “Yes”,  and he said, “Do you have any pictures of yourself up there with alcohol?”‘

He then offered her an option: resign or be suspended.

She chose to resign.

School officials also took offence to the use of the B-word on the page.

Miss Payne is now in a bitter legal battle with the school to get her job back.

Her lawyer, Richard Storrs, said: ‘It would be like I went to a restaurant and I saw my daughter’s teacher sitting there with her husband having a glass of some kind of liquid.

‘You know, is that frowned upon by the school board? Is that illegal? Is that improper? Of course not. It’s the same situation in this case.’

The English teacher later found out it was one anonymous emailer who shopped her to the school board after seeing the picture on the social networking site.

But she is baffled how a parent could gain access to her page when she has all her privacy settings on ‘high’, meaning only her closest friends have permission to see her pictures.

She admits putting the ‘offensive’ pictures on Facebook but says she now feels as if she had stashed them in a shoebox at home for them to be stolen and showed to the principal.

Court documents reveal that officials warned teachers about ‘unacceptable online activities’. They claimed her page ‘promoted alcohol use’ and ‘contained profanity’.

She now wants to clear her name and claim back her job.

She added: ‘I just want to be back in the classroom, if not that classroom, a classroom. I want to get back doing what I went to school for, my passion in life.’

This also happened to another teacher in Texas, Ben Fitzgibbons (above right), who posted a seemingly innocent picture of him enjoying a beer on a beach vacation with his girlfriend.

Surely this needs to stop? Why is it only teachers who are having their personal life scrutinized?

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