North Carolina Science Teacher in Big Trouble

IN the Greensboro News & Record, a daily newspaper serving Greensboro, North Carolina, we read Teacher may lose job after derogatory comments about her students on Facebook. Here are some excerpts, with bold added by us:

A middle-school teacher in Wake County may be fired after she and her friends made caustic remarks on a Facebook page about her students, the South and Christianity.

Melissa Hussain, an eighth-grade science teacher at West Lake Middle School in Apex, was suspended with pay Friday while investigators review her case, according to Greg Thomas, a Wake schools spokesman. The suspension came after some of Hussain’s students and their parents objected to comments on her Facebook page, many of them revolving around her interaction with her Christian students.

Suspended? May be fired? What did she do — behave like John Freshwater? Did she burn students with a Tesla coil? Keep a bible in her desk? Teach creationism? Let’s read on:

Hussain wrote on the social-networking site that it was a “hate crime” that students anonymously left a Bible on her desk, and she told how she “was able to shame” her students over the incident.

Wow — this is serious! We continue:

Teachers across the nation have been suspended or fired because of questionable material posted on their Facebook pages and other online social networking sites. In 2008, seven employees of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg, N.C., school system were disciplined and at least one person was fired because of Facebook postings. That led to a memo going to all Charlotte-Mecklenburg school staff warning that offensive postings to social networking sites are grounds for termination or disciplinary action.

Okay, fair enough. But what’s the offense in this case? Here’s more:

Parents said the situation escalated after a student put a postcard of Jesus on Hussain’s desk that the teacher threw in the trash. Parents also said Hussain sent to the office students who, during a lesson about evolution, asked about the role of God in creation.

On her Facebook page, Hussain wrote about students spreading rumors that she was a Jesus hater. She complained about her students wearing Jesus T-shirts and singing “Jesus Loves Me.” She objected to students reading the Bible instead of doing class work.

Aha! The plot thickens. In the Freshwater case, the teacher was the creationist with the bible. But this North Carolina case is the flip side of the Freshwater situation. Moving along:

The flash point for the comments came after the Bible was left on Hussain’s desk in December. The Bible was accompanied by an anonymous card, which, according to Hussain, said “Merry Christmas” with Christ underlined and bolded. She said there was no love shown in giving her the Bible.

“I can’t believe the cruelty and ignorance of people sometimes,” Hussain wrote on her Facebook page.

Well! If that doesn’t get her fired, what could? One more excerpt:

Hussain, a 2004 Florida State University graduate, has been a Wake County teacher since 2006. Her religious affiliation is not on her Facebook page.

This is a sticky situation. We’ll be watching for further developments.

Copyright © 2010. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

add to del.icio.usAdd to Blinkslistadd to furlDigg itadd to ma.gnoliaStumble It!add to simpyseed the vineTailRankpost to facebook

. AddThis Social Bookmark Button . Permalink for this article

8 responses to “North Carolina Science Teacher in Big Trouble

  1. “But Annette Balint, whose daughter is in Hussain’s class, said the students have the right to wear those shirts and sing “Jesus Loves Me,” a long-time Sunday School staple. She said the students were reading the Bible during free time in class.”

    This is a good example of why religion needs to be kept out of schools. If Hussain had a different last name would she have been subjected to the same treatment? Sounds to me like she has the basis for suing the school district for allowing a hostile work environment.

  2. comradebillyboy

    I teach science and math, I am an open atheist and I have lots of devout christian students. I have even had a couple even try to convert me. But I have also never had a religious based issue with parents or students.

    Ms. Hussein may be in the right but her approach guarantees problems for her. She need to just ignore the brats and toss the religious propaganda in the trash. The kids have a 1st amendment right to wear their jesus t shirts and read their bibles, but if they don’t do their work they also have the right to fail.

  3. Christian kids can be hateful, selfish, narrow-minded, ignorant little blighters. However, while placing a Bible on a teacher’s desk may be a crime of stupidity, I think it hardly qualifies as a hate crime.

    It does sound like she has been a victim of harassment by the students, and I do hope the school takes that into account.

  4. Adrian Thysse says: “It does sound like she has been a victim of harassment by the students …”

    Kids will torment a teacher if they don’t like her and if they know their little digs are getting to her. This teacher is behaving foolishly. She should just laugh it off, maintain discipline, and get on with her teaching.

  5. I’m sympathetic with what basically equals harassment, particularly with regards to religion, but the teacher should really have learned to not get riled by the students. It just encouraged them. And the Facebook thing was just plain stupid. Didn’t she realize that this was in public? Still, in a world with better parents, the children in question would have gotten a lesson in appropriate behavior towards teachers…

  6. So the moral of the story: Don’t post anything on Facebook you don’t want the *whole world* to know, especially with FB’s maze of (non)privacy issues. Beware those default settings – they can trip up even the tech-savvy.

  7. Cheryl Shepherd-Adams says:

    So the moral of the story: Don’t post anything on Facebook you don’t want the *whole world* to know …

    Definitely. Even when posting anonymously. Everything is forever, and anything can be discovered.

  8. retiredsciguy

    Curmy, as a long-time middle school teacher, I agree fully with your reply above to Adrian Thysse, and comradebillyboy’s got it right, too.