Teacher dismissed for refusing to unfriend students on Facebook

Carol Thebarge worked in the school system for more than 30 years.

Carol Thebarge

CLAREMONT, NH (WMUR) - A popular substitute teacher said she was dismissed Thursday from Stevens High School in Claremont after she refused to unfriend her students on Facebook.

Carol Thebarge, who taught for more than 30 years in the Claremont school system, said a school administrator gave her an ultimatum to remove all students she was friends with on Facebook or be dismissed.

Thebarge said administrators first approached her four years ago about deleting her students as friends on Facebook before issuing what Thebarge called an ultimatum recently after a fellow teacher, 29-year-old Christopher LeBlanc, was accused of sexually assaulting a student in a classroom.

Thebarge vowed to keep in touch with her students despite her dismissal.

Thebarge posted a statement on Facebook.

"I will continue to stay in touch with all of them here. No man or institution will dictate my relationships here, or otherwise that are within the range of my own consciousness. This is not rebellion. It is standing up for my beliefs ... for silence and compliance is agreement," Thebarge wrote in the Facebook post.

Taylor Anderson was one of Thebarge's students. Anderson said if she hadn't had Thebarge as a friend on Facebook, she would not have graduated in 2013.

Claremont Superintendent Middleton McGoodwin said Thebarge was an excellent substitute teacher, but she refused to follow written school board policy, so he had no choice other than to let her go.

McGoodwin said LeBlanc's recent arrest made the school take a harder look at its social media policies.

McGoodwin said Thebarge's friending of students was brought to school administrators' attention by school district staff.

Thebarge said she will not fight her dismissal. She said the issue of Facebook and social media is bigger than her and hopes the school district will re-evaluate the policy.

Read more: http://www.wmur.com/news/claremont-teacher-says-she-was-dismissed-for-refusing-to-unfriend-students-on-facebook/25325064#ixzz2yDFOfpQI

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