Where do you stand? Teacher under investigation for ‘flipping the bird’ at White House

This story is one of those great thought exercises that makes us evaluate where we are as a country. It can also force us to examine the lines between personal business and professional responsibility.

A Missouri teacher is under investigation by his district after he began using a photo of him flipping the bird at the White House as his Facebook profile photo.  The photo was taken when he was chaperoning a student trip to Washington, D.C.  This revelation has some parents outraged and calling for the teacher’s dismissal.  One parent is quoted as saying the following:

“I don’t care how you feel about politics or anything else, but when you are trusted to lead students and this is what is being taught I think it’s time you are held accountable for your actions while representing Warrensburg Middle School and the Warrensburg school district.”

You might think this is a slam-dunk that the teacher is in hot water but, here’s the twist — this was not a school-sponsored trip.  This was a trip that was taken through a private company.  This means that, theoretically, the teacher was on his own time.

As a result, some see this as him simply expressing his right to free speech:

“If he’s on his own personal time, I think he has a right to express himself.”

Where do you stand on this one?  Is it a case of a person simply expressing his freedom of speech or did the teacher have a responsibility to represent the school, even when he’s not on the clock?

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An opinionated technologist, JP launched Death By Social Media when he saw just how easily and how often people's misunderstanding/abuse of social media created personal catastrophes. As a result, he wanted to provide a resource that would provide cautionary tales for those seeking to avoid similar fates.