District: Susan Creamer made disparaging comments about students
PANAMA CITY — The school district is investigating a school teacher for allegedly making disparaging remarks about her students on a closed Facebook page for local atheists.
Karen Tucker, a spokeswoman for Bay District Schools, said it is against school policy to criticize students either in person or on an Internet page.
In one of the posts, Susan Creamer, a teacher with Merritt Brown Middle School, states some of her middle school students "are taking turns either inviting me to church or leaving (anonymously) flyers inviting me to church events. ... Every time any child sneezes, they loudly say 'God Bless You!' and look in my direction. I have complained twice to the principal — once last month and once today. She has spoken privately to one or two of the little cretins, but it seems to do NO GOOD.
"I am feeling bullied and harassed. It has become intolerable."
Creamer could not be reached for comment.
Tucker said Human Resources is investigating that and other comments made by Creamer on the Facebook page of Atheists of Bay County. She made the remarks on the closed page, but writing disparaging remarks about students, whether a Facebook page is closed or not, is violating school policy, she said. The district received word of her comments after a group member took and somehow distributed a screen shot.
“I don’t think it matters (if the page is closed), because eventually someone else is going to see it posted, which is what happened,” Tucker said. “People were re-posting. If you said things on there, which she did, about students, no, I don’t think it matters.”
Tucker forwarded a statement on Bay District Schools policy, which states that the district “prides itself on providing a safe, protected environment for all students at all times.
“Teachers are encouraged and trained, to keep clear boundaries between their personal and professional lives to ensure that the classroom remains a neutral and supportive environment,” the statement reads. “This training and related School Board policy includes guidelines for interactions on all social media platforms including, but not limited to, Facebook. We do not condone the use of disparaging comments about our students in any form, on any social media platform or in any school.”
Tucker said if the investigation finds Creamer violated the policy, she could face a range of disciplinary action.
“Our students are protected,” she said. She said the district makes it clear to teachers that they won’t tolerate any disparaging remarks of students. “If that happens it violates all kinds of things, (including) the code of ethics from the Department of Education.”
Jeromy Henderson, a member of the Athiests of Bay County page, said Creamer was simply talking on the closed page to get advice about how to handle the “harassment” she was getting by students who had learned of her atheist beliefs.
“It is it has turned into a modern-day witchhunt,” Henderson said. “The group is closed. It was never meant for public consumption. She was just looking for advice from the group on how to deal with students she felt were harassing her. Yes, her terminology was off-putting, but she was just looking for advice about how to deal with them. She’d already been to her principal and was not getting results.”
Henderson said Creamer’s comments were supposed to be private with other group members but was sent into cyberspace by a member who took a screen shot of the comments and then left the group.
The district has received at least one letter from a parent complaining about Creamer’s comments.
“First and foremost she should not be discussing her religious preferences (or lack thereof) with any of these students,” Crystal Moseley wrote in a letter to school superintendent Bill Husfelt. “Had she not been proudly boasting of her atheism these children would not know of her personal beliefs and I would not be addressing this situation. Secondly, as an adult in a professional occupation her choice of words to describe her students is completely unprofessional and completely out of line. Third, for her to seek out suggestions from a group on social media of how to handle her students (my children) has me outraged?”