Teacher, 79, Quits Job After School Officials Say She Can’t Be Friends With Students on Facebook

Carol Thebarge

Carol Thebarge

CHARLESTOWN, N.H. – A 79-year-old substitute teacher quit her job after school leaders ordered her to delete thousands of students she had friended on Facebook.

Carol Thebarge refused, according to The New Hampshire Union Leader.

“Today will be my last day at Stevens High,” Thebarge said, in a Facebook announcement. “I was given an ultimatum; to either delete every student from my Facebook page and do not post pictures of them, or be terminated.”

Thebarge has been a substitute teacher for the past 35 years, working at 32 different schools.

Thebarge said school officials gave her the ultimatum after a math teacher was recently charged with sexual assault on a 14-year-old girl in his classroom.

She said she started deleting students, but stopped after about 50 when she had students start asking her what they did wrong. Thebarge said some students have seen her Facebook page as a place where they can send private messages about being bullied or feeling depressed.

School Superintendent Middleton McGoodwin said that Claremont School Board policy bans teachers from being “friends” with students on social networking sites such as Facebook.

7 comments

  • Hayley Fox

    I dont believe they should be able to treat her this way. I remember what it was like in high school being bullied. If I had had a teacher like her to yt? Alkyl to then I never would have quit school.

  • Derek Purser

    The State Attorney Generals office should do an investigation to see if her Constitutional Rights have been violated. I feel they have abused their position and overstepped their legal bounderies.

  • Doris

    If it was school board policy for years, she has agreed to comply with it when she took the job, or continued to work for the district after it became policy. I also question how she can have “thousands of students as friends” if they use it when “depressed or feel bullied”.

  • Jim M

    This is a major issue with people nationwide regarding employment and use of social media. I worked for a company back in the late 90’s which was the industry leader in its field. It was a transporation company which was nonunion. A driver started this website and lots of people from the company joined in on the boards that it had. They basically would talk about things going on at the company and the industry in general. It was a pretty respectable board. I joined the board and would comment on various issues that came up. I used the board to gage the temp of the organization and enjoyed conversing on it. One monday manager called me in the office to talk about me posting on that board. He said that corporate had figured out who I was on the board and were unconfortable with me posting on the board. My boss said that he felt strange talking to me about it anyway since I did this on my on time and was not doing anything to the detriment of the company. He said corporate said that I did a pretty good job on the board with what I had posted on or discussed so it wasnt an issue about me getting people mad or misconduct. They just were uncomfortable about social media and didnt like anyone in a management position being on the board. I agreed not to post on it anymore since I wasnt going to put my job on the line either way, but it felt like my rights were being limited there.. They basically didnt want a situation to develop on there that could be seen as negative on the company. Now jump forward 15 yrs and the company has a presence on the board with managers of different sections of the company there answering questions etc. They use it for their benefit now since they understand it and their use of social media has matured. This whole situation with the teacher seems to be similar also. I can understand that school systems are paranoid and rightfully so about social media and teachers reaching out to students in an unprofessional way which can lead to unsavory things happening. But I take offense to seeing people fired over innocent posts on facebook like a travel picture of a teacher drinking a beer in a pub in Great Britain or Germany..I saw one instance where a teacher was fired over something like that..There needs to be a review of social media policies and best uses for employers in general. I personally dont talk about my employer or even list it on anything in the internet. I do not friend people at work not because I dont like them or have something to hide but due to the trend with social networking and employers I keep that completely separate. I dont think that teacher did anything wrong, she just cared too much for her students and kept in touch which in todays world is taboo as is for teachers hugging students in elementary school etc due to school systems are so scared of predators..Well by protecting or trying so hard to eliminate predators schools have eliminated a caring environment in elementary schools and have replaced it with a sterile environment that is not very friendly anymore…

  • Sue

    I am sure she only meant to help students so they can have someone with knowledge and experience. I always looked up to teachers when I was growing up. I think the trouble is school boards just like work places like employees from management positions to stay away from getting too personal or close. It is too easily to get too involved in way or another. I do not think she was doing any harm. Sounds like she was doing a lot of good. Good luck to her. She sounds like a good teacher and friend to her students!

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