Teacher, 79, told she can’t be friends with students on Facebook, quits job

Carol Thebarge

Carol Thebarge

CHARLESTOWN, N.H. – A 79-year-old substitute teacher quit her job after school officials ordered her to delete thousands of students from her Facebook page and she refused.

The New Hampshire Union Leader reported that Charlestown resident Carol Thebarge has left Stevens High School.

Thebarge has been working as a paraprofessional and substitute teacher for the past 35 years, accepting assignments at 32 different schools.

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 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.

The superintendent said the principal asked Thebarge to delete students from her “friends” list, and she refused.

“In truth, being a caring, lovely woman doesn’t give you immunity to ignore a school board policy that’s designed to protect everyone,” he said.

Thebarge said she has had a wonderful career and did not want things to end this way.

Read more: The New Hampshire Union Leader

21 comments

  • Mia-Isabella Rodriguez

    There’s no law banning teachers from doing so. I am a high school student and I have many of my teachers on my Facebook and Twitter. There’s nothing wribg with that at all.

  • FaithC

    If there is no law banning it…what was the problem? She seems to be the kind of woman students may need. Not every child can go to their parents, if she created a safe environment for them to talk to someone, how is that bad?

  • its my business

    At 79, she got to make her point righteously and well done madame! I have spent many years in the School District as VP of every position and when approached numerous times for PTA Pres, I had to decline because of work conflicts. I just wonder if a sub-teacher at the age of let’s say 35 would have done the same thing? I’m just throwing the question out.

  • Rdhddramaqn

    She may not have been breaking the law but she may have been breaking school policy. You don’t have to break the law to be fired from a job. Whereas I understand the schools policy, I also understand that her students see her as a nurturing and comforting soul in their lives. She obviously has had a very long career and I hope that she continues to be a wonderful example in those children’s lives. Not every teacher is as great with boundaries as she is and those that cross the line can do a great deal of damage to those that trusted them. God bless her.

  • Kathy

    Why do those in so called authority, think they all of a sudden, have the right to tell everyone else what they can, and can not do? It is getting to the point where the individual isn’t allowed to think for themselves any more. The position of authority DOES NOT mean you have all the answers. You are still human, like all the rest of us, and you still make misteaks too! Quit trying to be responsible for everyone’s choices, and allow people to be held accountable for their own actions! We DO NOT live in a perfect world, and YOUR ideas will not make it so. ACCIDENTS WILL HAPPEN! PEOPLE WILL DIE, AND KIDS WILL GET HURT ON THIS EARTH! Your plans and ideas WILL NOT change that! It is the result of sin, and that is just how it will always be, until The LORD comes back to take His children home! So stop with the stupidity and and let wiser brains prevail! The “wise” are those who live by the Holy Bible; God’s detailed letter to us. It is EVERYTHING we need to prosper in this life! In that Book, you will find ALL the RIGHT answers!!!

  • jim

    While her decision can be seen as commendable due to her standing up for her principles, rules should still be followed. Having raised two daughters, I have always felt that it is a boundary issue when teachers friend students on social media. Just because one teacher is appropriate in her use of social media with students, does not mean that they all are. A teacher in our area was recently caught having sexual relationship with a teenage girl; also facebook friends. It amazes me how many parents fail to see the problem with this issue.

    • parent

      I agree Jim. I don’t see how these other people claiming to be parents aren’t worried about teachers being friends on Facebook with students and messaging with them And POSTING PICs of them. Yes she may not have been a predator, but there are many of them out there. She should’ve known the policies but she thought she was above them. she was sub, not a teacher.

  • Patrick Dunn

    Even when a teacher has no students as friends he/she can still be fired over what an administrator may consider poor conduct on Facebook. It can be as simple as having a photograph taken with a glass of wine in your hand. Administrators have gone much to far in their policing of teacher(and student) private activities

  • Mark

    I hate to break it to the school district, but there are thousands of other ways and other sites that teachers/people could use to have inappropriate contact with students/minors. Banning teachers from being friends with students on Facebook will not stop inappropriate transgressions from happening.

  • Lynn Erickson

    If she started friending students before there was a rule against it.. Is she really violating a rule or is administration overstepping their bounds?

  • Jodie

    I agree with the school district. Business and home should not be mixed. There should always be a professional distance btwn students/teachers,customers/business.

  • louisa

    Some kids cant or dnt hv none to speak to an trust enuff to tell a teacher an its gud they hv her to speak to an she can let rhe parents be aware if sumthing is wrong or the skool. Children feel comfortable speakn to others rather than ther parents. They see them an get full attention on a daily basis wer as parents are so busy they dobt hv time or dont think to ask how or wuts going on in ther kids lives weither gud or bad.

    • Dianna

      From what I could make out in your post, I agree with your sentiment. That being said, you might get your point across much better if you used any, any at all, grammar and spelling.

  • linda

    I believe rules should exist however lets look at it like this,
    If my child goes to school and I pay the school teachers salary by paying into the system then I feel I should have asay in these created rules the board makes up. What I would look at is the rubber stamp in which they use to label every rule a rule in which it is designed for the safety of the students. I believe that we cannot as a society protect each individual in school by blocking the very fabric that makes each and every one unique. How one person may use a pencil may not be how the next person uses it. There are rules to protect. Rules to live by. Rules in loveand even in death but that does not make us all expendable for the sake of one. Fairness in judging which and how far a rule is applied should be weighed and should stop somewhere. I havr allowed you to make rules in the school system to make a safer and a betterclearning environment but frankly I dont trust you anymore and I am thinking up a rule for that.

  • Debbie

    The rules are there for a reason. Just because she seems like a good person who only wants what best for the students doesn’t mean she should be treated any different than the other teachers. What kind of example is she setting for these children?

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