Montgomery Co. schools urges teachers to ‘align’ social media posts with ‘system’s values’

Teachers and staff at Montgomery County Public Schools in Maryland are strongly urged to watch what they say on social media and make sure it “aligns” with the “system’s values” after four teachers were put on administrative leave.

According to a letter sent by the school system’s chief operating officer, Brian Hull, there has been a rise of “staff accounts being reported on,” which Montgomery County Public Schools had to follow up on.

“Social media activities may attract public attention, and nothing online is truly private,” Hull wrote. “Even in your private lives and when on social media, it’s essential to align with our school system’s values, uphold professionalism, and preserve your ability to serve the Montgomery County community.”

The letter said that all Montgomery County school employees should assume that nothing is truly private that they post online.

“Avoid assuming anonymity online, as the line between professional and personal is often blurred in the digital realm,” the letter said.

The letter also warned that there could be consequences for those posts on social media that do not adhere to the school system’s code of conduct.

“Employees should not post social media content that violates Board policy or MCPS regulations because such conduct may be subject to progressive discipline,” the letter said.

The Jewish Community Relations Council of the Greater Washington area Associate Director Guila Franklin Siegel says what a teacher posts online can impact children in school. “That is not something that that teacher can keep separate from their work life, it will be seen immediately, it will go viral. And how can a Jewish child, especially an Israeli child, be expected to sit in that teacher’s classroom?” she said.

This comes at a time when four middle school teachers have come under fire for controversial statements made on social media and through shared expressions.

Anike Robinson, who teaches at Westland Middle School, and Angela Wolf of Takoma Park Middle School were placed on leave due to making social media posts that were deemed by administrators as antisemitic, according to community letters sent out from their respective schools.

Last month, Sabrina Khan-Williams, who teaches world studies at Tilden Middle School in Rockville, was put on administrative leave after allegedly posting messages on Facebook that were deemed “antisemitic in nature.”

Those instances led to Heather Carroll-Fisher, executive director for the Montgomery County Education Association, issuing a letter to MCPS, requesting that they “cease and desist issuing letters” on personnel matters regarding those teachers until they conduct a fair investigation.

“The letters distributed to school communities are damaging the reputations of these employees and creating potential hostile working environments to which they may have to return,” Carroll-Fisher wrote.

Hajur El-Haggan, a teacher at Argyle Middle School and who is Muslim, was also put on leave for a pro-Palestinian statement she used on her email signature.

“Their responsibility is to make sure that all children in their classrooms feel safe with them. That their students can feel completely respected for who they are by their educators,” Siegel said.

WTOP’s Grace Newton contributed to this report. 

Tadiwos Abedje

Tadi Abedje is a freelance digital writer/editor for WTOP. He was born in Washington, D.C., and grew up in Northern Virginia. Journalism has been his No. 1 passion since he was a kid and he is blessed to be around people, telling their stories and sharing them with the world.

Federal News Network Logo
Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up