More than a dozen parents and kids protested outside a school in Bradenton on Wednesday. They're furious over comments a teacher made on Facebook, and they say the district's response isn't nearly enough.
The music teacher described a student as an "evolutionary link between orangutans and humans."
The protesters want a harsher punishment and a harsher policy regulating social media use by teachers.
It looks like they just might get that.
"I wanted to know why, why would she do something like that to my child," said Lisa Wade.
It was an upsetting call from school for her as she was told her 8-year old son had been discussed online by music teacher Laura Orban, at Rogers Garden Elementary.
"On a Facebook page, (she) called one of the students a missing link between an orangutan and a human," explained protest organizer Rodney Jones.
Other teachers commented and knew exactly which student the teacher was talking about when she posted his initials. It happened in May and was handled by the principal.
"The school did an investigation. They met with each of the teachers and gave them a verbal reprimand," explained Superintendent Tim McGonegal.
Basically the protesters want to see two things done. They want to see a harsher punishment for the teacher, and they want to see changes in the school's social media policy.
"She just needs to be suspended, at least suspended. I'm not asking for money. I'm not asking for a law suit. Give her some more education," Wade said.
Wade's complaints got the attention of the superintendent last Tuesday.
"When I saw the words on the Facebook post, I said, you know, I'm going to turn this over the professional practices in Tallahassee, have them come down and have another set of eyes, do their own investigation independent and to determine whether this should have some impact on her license," McGonegal said.
The comment violates the district's code of ethics, which triggered the verbal reprimand. The incident may help create an entirely new regulation.
"What we want to do is do what other school districts have done around and actually adopt a special social media policy. It's right up front. It's right in your face. Teachers, if you're on Facebook, it's just the same as talking to a student one on one," McGonegal said.
The school board is working with their union to craft exactly what the social media policy will look like. It may also include regulations to fight cyberbullying among students
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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