Want to get fired, teachers? Try MySpace!

My Spider-sense tells me... Im about to get fired!

"My Spider-Sense tells me... I'm about to get CANNED!!!"

From the “Inevitability of Stupidity” department, we have the story of one Jeffrey Spanierman, FORMER English teacher, Ansonia, Connecticut.  Mr. Spanierman, AKA “Mr. Spiderman,” maintained a MySpace page where he indulged in casual conversation with current students, and posted bad poetry about the war in Iraq.

And naked pictures of men.

Upon receiving complaints from students, the district pressured Spanierman to take down his MySpace profile.  Which he did… and shortly thereafter RE-posted it under the user name Apollo68.

The district did NOT opt to renew Mr. Spanierman’s contract, and now he’s suing for wrongful termination (or somesuch B.S. …)  Here’s a link to the court papers (click).

Commentary: Folks, teachers have to walk a narrow line when it comes to relationships with students.  It is impossible to be an effective educator if a student doesn’t feel like you care about them as a person.  It is also very easy to let a relationship devolve into casual banter, or (real or imagined) inappropriately intimate behavior.

As teachers, we can NEVER let our guard down and forget that first and foremost we are to act as professional, authoritative, ADULT, representatives of our schools, communities, churches, and families.  To stray too far from that model is to invite disaster.  When you try to be “buddy-buddy” with a student, you lose an essential element of respect.

Don’t give any appearance of possible impropriety.  Your reputation is one irreparable thing that you will carry with you far beyond any teaching assignment.  Once it is soiled, there’s no going back.  The public trusts us too much to risk second chances, and rightly so.

Also, avoid MySpace like the Ebola virus.

Story courtesy of arstechnica.com.


5 Responses to “Want to get fired, teachers? Try MySpace!”

  1. October 22, 2008 at 12:09 pm

    I am pretty sure I know where the union stands on this one, as there are some obvious 1st Amendment issues to consider. Is there usually some kind of “ethics” clause in these contracts? I think everyone “knows” this would be inappropriate, but what about legally?


    Fortunately, the teacher wasn’t tenured, so it’s likely that the district will come out on top. It wasn’t a contract termination, as far as I understand the facts in this case. They just didn’t renew him.

    I work in a district where there IS no such thing as “tenure,” and rightly so, in my opinion. Teaching can become a haven for mediocrity when there’s no chance of you getting fired for it. Also, my contract and employee handbook has very specific guidelines regarding “appropriate contact with students outside of the classroom.”

    On that track, if he was passing love notes to students, or mailing porn to them, would that be constitutionally-protected free speech?

  2. October 22, 2008 at 12:57 pm

    The photos of the men and any “age inappropriate” materials would have other legal ramifications. It becomes shaky ground when you start telling teachers what they can and can’t do on their own time, within the limits of the laws.

    I am on your side on this one, this was very bad. But those writing the contracts and doing the hiring have to address this prior to having these people working with the kids.

    In this day and age, it is sad that you have to tell someone that it is bad to do this…but it is probably necessary.


    Oh, I agree entirely. What Happens In Vegas, and all that.

  3. October 22, 2008 at 3:12 pm

    I agree that the teacher should not be renewed. If he had been renewed, it certainly wouldn’t have been because his district wanted him back, it would have been because of pressure from fashionable politics. Not a good way to run a school.

  4. October 24, 2008 at 9:57 am

    I enjoyed seeing what you said here as well. It’s an interesting spot teachers are in having to watch their online content so closely. Signing up to teach is not unlike running for political office — everything becomes free game. Or so it seems. Not that I would want to teach with Mr. “Spiderman” or have him interact with my hypothetical offspring.


    I’m sure he has a lovely singing voice. (Rumor has it he’s on the writing staff for “Iraq: the Musical.”)

  5. 5 Anonymous
    November 24, 2008 at 6:53 pm

    As a future teacher and responsible adult, I’m appalled by the behavior of this man, and others that have behaved inappropriately. This being said, I believe that teachers have the SAME RIGHTS as any other person. I have a Myspace and Facebook account and I’m going to keep them during my student teaching in January. Will I accept student request as friends? NEVER. These pages are my personal accounts that are not meant for my students, coworkers or employers. Don’t judge or punish all teachers because of the despicable behavior of a few. Besides, telling teachers they CAN’T have any social networking pages would be considered as discriminatory and I would agree.


    There’s definitely a time and place for such things. Keep your nose clean, Anonymous. :mrgreen:

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The random musings of a 30-something, West Texas high-school science teacher. Hoo-RAY.
October 2008
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