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Apex teacher suspended after parents question Facebook comments

Posted February 15, 2010
Updated February 16, 2010

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— An eighth-grade teacher at West Lake Middle School in Apex has been suspended for five days with pay pending an investigation, Wake County school officials said Monday.

School district spokesman Greg Thomas would not go into details over Melissa Hussain’s suspension due to employee confidentiality obligations, but a parent said the concern started as the class was learning about evolution and some students challenged the teacher on Christian beliefs.

Following the evolution discussion, Hussain wrote on her Facebook page that a student left a Bible on her desk with a card that read Merry Christmas with “Christ” underlined, the parent told WRAL News Monday afternoon.

Facebook is a social networking Web site that allows users to create profiles and participate in online discussions with “friends.”

Hussain wrote that the gesture was cruel and called it a “hate crime,” the parent said.

The parent said Hussain then wrote, “I have a meeting with the (possible) Bible boy on Monday … Heaven help him, I am still so mad at that child!”

Parents complained to school officials about the comments last week.

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Raleigh attorney Mike Tadych said employee disciplinary cases involving social media use are growing.

“The current test that exists is, are you commenting on something that is of public importance? The second part of it is, if you are, are your comments going to be disruptive to the efficiency operation of that government agency?” Tadych explained.

Tadych said more companies are talking ahead of time with employees about social media use to avoid concerns over appropriateness.

"The employers negotiate what that employ can say. If you do this, you are subject to discipline,” he said.

Hussain, who began working for the school district in August 2006, was suspended with pay under a school district policy, Thomas said.

The policy states the highest standards of honesty, integrity and fairness must be exhibited by each employee.

WRAL was unable to reach Hussain for comment.

218 Comments

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  • crxpwred Feb 17, 6:27 p.m.

    We all need to take it back to the basics, Its called freedom of speech in America, Love it or Leave it!

  • sunsu1013 Feb 17, 5:26 p.m.

    @ SatelliteBgan

    Indeed you should. From Merriam Webster's definition of "theory":

    "Main Entry: the·o·ry
    Pronunciation: \ˈthē-ə-rē, ˈthir-ē\
    Function: noun
    Inflected Form(s): plural the·o·ries
    Etymology: Late Latin theoria, from Greek theōria, from theōrein
    Date: 1592
    1 : the analysis of a set of facts in their relation to one another 5 : a plausible or scientifically acceptable general principle or body of principles offered to explain phenomena ." So, whilst you choose to use the pop culture version of theory as speculation or hypothesis, the use of theory in the sense of evolution is as a scientific theory, referenced above. Thus it is as subject to correction as the theory of gravity, the germ theory of disease, or the theory the matter is made of atoms.

  • clynns1014 Feb 17, 4:59 p.m.

    Let me start by saying that I am a teacher. Parents need to communicate with their children better. Parents and educators know that evolution is very controversial but is presented in school. Parents need to discuss with their child that this is a theory that you learn about. While you learn about it you don't have to believe it but you do have to recognize that it is a theory. I wonder why the kid gave the Bible to the teacher. This makes me think that the teacher defended evolution with some sort of personal belief. Evolution is probably the most controversial thing taught in K-12. A professional who teaches evolution should communicate with students that it is a theory and you have to decide whether you believe it or not. As for the facebook thing. As a educator you have to be mindful of what you say and how it can be taken. The teacher should have just been an adult and not made a scene about the Bible and discussed this with her admin who could have addressed this in a better way.

  • sunneyone Feb 17, 1:42 p.m.

    "I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use." Galileo

    Just a little food for thought from my favorite former heretic. In his day, his science wasn't believed by Christians (the thought the Earth was flat and that it was the center of the solar system, that the sun revolved around the planet) and later he was proved right.

  • manofjustice Feb 17, 1:25 p.m.

    I like facebook but some of you just tell too much information that is unnecessary. Learn some judgement people. Just like some of you tell too much here on GOLO. I don't care if your boyfriend gave you and STD, that is none of my business. I don't care if your mom is dating your daughter's mother's husband's wife...it aint my business. I don't care if you are 800 lbs overweight and having your tongue tied...it aint my business. Just tell jokes on facebook and let it be that. It aint nobody's business that in 8 months I will be a father to my wife's sister's child. It is my secret and that is all that it needs to be.

  • TallWillow Feb 17, 10:55 a.m.

    'I will continue to teach my children that when the teacher is teaching “theory” what the word “theory” means. That is unless we are to believe everything we hear. I think they have a word for that....' SatelliteBgan

    You have every right to teach your children what you believe, and how it differs from what the school is teaching them. You have no right to allow them to disrupt a science class or be disrespectful to their teachers because of those beliefs.

  • beth27519 Feb 17, 9:20 a.m.

    My son went to a Wake County High School. He said many of his friends were ATHEIST because they were unsure of ANY one faith. I told him they were more AGNOSTIC if they believed in something. Many parents obviously need to discuss with their children about religion (ANY KIND OF FAITH). I am a Christian, but many of us have turned others away because of our being very judgmental. We need to show compassion and forgiveness to this woman and hope everyone can learn from this experience. As for the Bible, I can understand why she would think this is offensive. It would be like a firm believer being given the Qur'an. I am sure the child did not know how his actions would be perceived, but his parents should have. All parties here can learn from this experience and schools could really use this as an opportunity to discuss faith (in general) and respect!

  • scorekeep Feb 17, 9:03 a.m.

    ATTENTION PLEASE-A ruling in Fla has declared "Facebook" is protected speech. As it should be.

  • Timbo Feb 16, 7:54 p.m.

    "Parents or children who "saw" these comments -- which named NO students -- HAD TO GO LOOKING FOR THEM -- on her FACEBOOK page, public, or not. None were said in the school setting."

    Exactly, which makes one think this was orchestrated by some parents, not the child.

    But I doubt the school really cares.

  • Timbo Feb 16, 7:52 p.m.

    "Do you think there is a small chance you could show those people to just leave the people with with different religion alone and live in peace together???"

    If you are asking about why a christian refused to associate with you because you didn't go to church, I think you just need to realize they really weren't christians.

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