October 15, 2014

Someone Should Lose His Coaching Job

Iíll be honest Ė I donít agree with my districtís hard line on social media which threatens disciplinary action for anything it finds inappropriate on the internet. To listen to some district administrators, becoming employed in education requires us to surrender all First Amendment rights Ė something the Supreme Court has stated is not true in any number of cases, including Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District.

"It can hardly be argued that either students or teachers shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate."

And if we donít shed those rights at school, we clearly have them off school grounds and on our own time.

But if we make statements in connection with our employment that do cause a problem, I agree that something can and should be done. Which is why Iím glad that a neighboring school district has taken action over something one of its coaches put on Facebook.

A history teacher who is also the head coach of the freshman football team at Goose Creek Memorial High School in Baytown is on paid leave because of a Facebook rant administrators say he posted.

The post was made by Scott Griffin and it bragged about Memorial beating its rival Lee High School 40-6 on Oct. 6. It used profanity and said, 'youíre the worst team in town.'

Parents contacted Local 2, outraged by what they read and said it was bad sportsmanship, especially coming from a coach.

Parents also showed Local 2 a drawing that appeared on the white board in the schoolís field house. It showed some Patriots, which is Memorialís mascot, shooting and killing Ganders, which is Leeís mascot. It's unclear who put the drawing there but parents said it's taking the rivalry too far.

The board was full of threatening words and even said, ďDig up the Ganders that are already dead and kill them again.Ē Parents feel itís taking the rivalry too far.


The problem, of course, is that he publicly disparaged the students of another school in his district in a publicly available Facebook post connected to an account that identifies his employer and his position as a coach. Whatís more, his words were quite clearly intended to be coming from him in his position as a coach after he allowed his team to run up the score against the other school. The words on the white board might be over the top ďfire Ďem upĒ motivational stuff before the game that might be justified on such grounds Ė the mocking of the kids on the opposing team after the game clearly was not.

Frankly, I donít know that this is the sort of person who should be in a coaching position. That said, Iíve heard that this individual is a pretty good teacher in the classroom. Iím hoping that his district relieves him of his coaching duties Ė but that they donít remove him from the classroom. Good teachers with a passion for their subject are hard to find.

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