A 79-year-old teacher at a New Hampshire high school has resigned from her job after she refused to unfriend her students on Facebook, as school policy dictated. The school policy was instituted a few weeks ago, after a 29-year-old Stevens High School math teacher was arrested for sexual assaulting a 14-year-old student. In response to the news, the school decided to enforce a new social media policy, preventing teachers from being Facebook friends with their students and from posting pictures of them.
The policy had already been in place, but only recently did the administration start cracking down.
The teacher, whose name is Carol Thebarge but is also known as Mrs. T by students, had worked at Claremont, New Hampshire's Stevens High School for 11 years as a substitute teacher, and 35 years total in the state. She was Facebook friends with about 250 students and, upon finding out from administrators that she had to either unfriend them or she would be terminated, she had a decision to make.
Thebarge made the hard choice and resigned from Stevens High School. On Tuesday April 3, she wrote a status on her Facebook profile announcing her resignation. "Today will be my last day at Stevens High," it began. She detailed how she was writing to dispel any rumors about why she was resigning from the school, and then ended with this:
It has been a sad day for me. Not the way I planned to end a career of 35 years, 32 schools K-12 . The students have loved my site. I have loved to share pictures of the cats, my grandchildrens' achievements, and the wisdom I have gained throughout my journey.
I have never once, written here, anything against a teacher, the administration, or a student. If this was so, by all means, I should not be allowed the privilege of having students on my site.
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.
Watch the video below to hear Thebarge tell CBS, "There's a paranoia about the Internet, and I think we're not realizing how valuable Facebook can be, used properly," she said.
The video also shows students picketing to get Thebarge get her job back. "She wasn't harming anybody," said a student called Kayla Jennison, who shows up in the video. "She was a great person and she always helped us."