School officials at Johnston Community College in Smithfield, North Carolina, are investigating a department chair after she shared a questionable Facebook post that mocks a student who wore a T-shirt supporting President Donald Trump.
What are the details?
According to The Johnston County Report, openly gay instructor Tammy Bird said that she felt uncomfortable with her student's support of the president.
The photo of the student in the shirt, a simple Trump 2020 campaign design, made an appearance on Bird's personal social media page earlier in September. She shared the photo of the student, whose face was reportedly partially covered with the expression "OMG!" At least two other students' faces were reportedly visible in the photo.
Bird, who is the department chair of Educational Technologies & Computer Sciences at the school, is facing scrutiny after some parents have come forward with their concerns of sharing photos of students on her page.
According to the outlet, one critic said, "Ms. Bird singled out this student on social media, barely hiding his identity and did not obscure the identity of the other student(s), and added political commentary including the fact that she felt threatened by his choice of clothing. If this were my child in her class I would be very upset. Our children are not your political statement."
“How are we to know that the other staff and faculty there who saw this post are not now discriminating against that student?" the critic continued. "Had that student filled out a release to allow his image to be used? Even if he signed a release, is this an appropriate use of the image where he is being singled out for his politics by the department head?"
According to The Johnstonian News, the post read, "This semester I feel vulnerable. I talk less about who I am. I do not talk about my wife in class. It is a choice I made in the midst of all the hate and destruction of people who are not white and/or straight."
The photo's caption also read, "Hardest teaching day to date."
A bigger violation at second glance?
The outlet pointed out that the posting, while clearly inappropriate, could also violate the students' federal rights the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, which prohibits public schools from sharing information about students — including photos — without their permission.
Also, the photo in question could also have violated the school's employee Code of Conduct policy.
"Other employees from JCC also commented and liked her post, even though posting the student's photo raises numerous privacy rules," the outlet reported. "One high-ranking JCC school administrator reportedly wrote a supportive note on the social media post to Bird. The post has since been deleted."
The school's president, Dr. David Johnson, issued a statement on the matter: "I appreciate your inquiry. I am fully aware of the incident you indicate. The issue is a personnel matter and under investigation. Therefore, I am declining to make a comment at this time. Thank you for your understanding."