Letters policy: Send by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org (no attached files, please, which can contain viruses); fax to 770-532-0457; mail to The Times, P.O. Box 838, Gainesville, GA 30503; or click HERE for a form. Include full name, hometown and phone number for confirmation. They should be limited to one topic on issues of public interest and may be edited for content and length (limit of 500 words). Letters originating from other sources, those involving personal, business or legal disputes, poetry, expressions of faith or memorial tributes may be rejected. You may be limited to one letter per month, two on a single topic. Submitted items may be published in print, electronic or other forms. Letters, columns and cartoons express the opinions of the authors and not of The Times editorial board.
I agree completely with Teressa Glazer's column about Ashley Payne, the Barrow County teacher who resigned when threatened with suspension by her principal based on Facebook pictures available only to her list of chosen "friends" and not to her students ("Freedom of speech stops at the schoolhouse door," Friday).
One important point, however, should be added.
When Ms. Payne was confronted by her principal with Facebook photos she knew were not publicly available and given a choice to resign or be suspended, she opted to resign because she was told suspension would make it more difficult to get another teaching job.
I'm certainly no employment law expert, but I strongly suspect her resigning rather than being suspended significantly complicates her lawsuit against the school district.
What would have happened if, despite the principal's intimidation, Ms. Payne had refused to resign? Yes, she might have been suspended. But the fact that the e-mail complaining about her conduct came from a false address would have been uncovered. She would also have been entitled to an appeal process in which she could have pointed out that, contrary to the e-mail, her students didn't have access to the vacation photos showing her with alcoholic beverages. I strongly suspect any suspension would have been short-lived.
I don't blame Ms. Payne for resigning in the face of intimidation by her principal, but what happened to her can serve as a lesson to others. When you haven't done wrong, don't be intimidated by a supervisor, a police officer or any other authority. Stand up for yourself.
We are fortunate to live in a nation of laws intended to provide justice for everyone. Give them a chance to work for you.
Richard C. Bellows