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Paterson teacher suspended over Facebook posts

April 1, 2011 2:40:26 PM PDT
A New Jersey school district suspended a first-grade teacher after parents complained that she had posted derogatory comments about her students on her Facebook page.

Charlene Conover, mother of two PS 21 students, saw the message, as they say, with her very own eyes.

"A parent who read it on her Facebook page asked if I had kids at the school, I said yes. She told me to read it, and the exact wording is I'm a warden of future criminals," Conover said.

A teacher, recently relocated to PS 21 in Paterson, is accused of writing on her Facebook page that her 1st graders, 6 and 7 year old kids, are future criminals.

The community is furious.

"I'm just shocked, shocked, saddened and disgusted that a person who teaches in public schools, part of our children's lives, could think such a thing like that, have that kind of perception of all our kids," Pastor Kenneth Clayton, president of the Paterson NAACP, said.

The message ended with the teacher's name, but we won't use it because she has not yet been officially identified. The school district told Eyewitness News that it's a personnel matter being investigated, and that the teacher is on paid administrative leave.

A personal opinion on a Facebook page? Yes, but Pastor Clayton says this cuts way deeper than that for kids in this urban district.

"What she was evidencing was her perception of the children she's responsible for nurturing and educating, and to think she has no hope or belief that they can be anything beyond what she sees at the moment," Conover said.

The teacher has lost the confidence of many here.

"I don't think she should ever have a job teaching nowhere. Ever," one parent said.

Especially, the Pastor says, in a city where kids need contrast, hope and inspiration to dream beyond disadvantages they may see or live every day.

"She cannot help create change with an attitude like that, so she should not be around any child," Conover said.

The flap comes just weeks after a high school English teacher from outside Philadelphia was suspended for a profanity-laced blog in which she called her young charges "disengaged, lazy whiners."

And Chicago Public Schools officials are investigating a teacher who apparently posted a photo on her Facebook page of a student who wore Jolly Rancher candies in her hair. The 7-year-old girl's mother complained to school officials after she saw negative comments written about her daughter's picture on the page.

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