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Case Studies

Consider the scenarios below. Each fictional scenario is loosely based on actual cases that have been brought to the PSPC in recent years. For each scenario, consider whether misconduct occurred. If you believe misconduct did occur, consider at what point the misconduct occurred and whether that misconduct should result in any local employment action or any action by the state against the teacher's certification. Also, consider whether there was anything the school administration or colleagues could have done to help avert the misconduct.

Case 1

Anthony S. was a certified biology teacher working in Western Evergreen High School. Mr. S. was caught texting a sixteen year old female student. Although the communication originally was playful and somewhat academic in nature, the texts became increasingly sexual and explicit. The student's parents found the texting history and notified the school district.

Case 2

Angela F. was a second year family and consumer science teacher in the Greater Oaks School District. Ms. F. attended a bachelorette party with several non-teacher friends. After the party, Ms. F's friends posted pictures of the party online on a social network and identified Ms. F. in several photos. In the photos, Ms. F. appears drunk and is shown dancing with a male entertainer. After seeing the photos online, a colleague reported the incident to the building principal.

Case 3

Robert M. taught Algebra at Felixville Middle School. At the beginning of the school year, Mr. M. was issued a district-owned laptop for use with his classroom preparation and instruction. The laptop was having trouble so Mr. M. submitted the computer to district support staff for repairs. In repairing the computer, district support staff found that Mr. M. had used the computer to access inappropriate websites during school hours and had downloaded hundreds of pornographic pictures to the computer hard drive.

Case 4

Elizabeth L. taught reading at Webster Hills Middle School. In her free time, Ms. L. was also a cheerleader for a local sports team. As a reward for their performance on a recent exam, Ms. L. performed one of her cheerleading routines for her eighth graders in her classroom. Unbeknown to Ms. L, one of the students in the class used his cell phone to videotape the cheerleading routine. The student posted the video online and the video drew the attention of district personnel and community members. Several parents were outraged and complained about the suggestive nature of the cheerleading routine.

Case 5

Mark R. was a social studies teacher at George Mackland High School. Mr. R. received an email to his district email address that announced a party for the district superintendent, Dr. Whitemarsh, who was retiring at the end of the year. Using software on his district-owned computer, Mr. R. edited a picture of Dr. Whitemarsh to make it appear that she was spending her retirement at a topless beach. Mr. R. had intended to attach the picture in a reply to the original sender as a joke. Mr. R. accidentally hit "Reply All," sending the picture to everyone who had received the original email including the entire school board, several community members and the president of the Parent Teacher Organization.

Case 6

Marsha P. was a science teacher at White Plains Middle School. While supervising a study hall one afternoon, Ms. P. used her cell phone to text her boyfriend, who is not a teacher. After hearing a commotion in the hallway, Ms. P. left the classroom to investigate the disturbance, leaving her cell phone on her desk. While she was in the hallway, Ms. P. received a text message from her boyfriend that included a naked picture of him. A student who was walking by the desk saw the photo on the unattended phone and proceeded to hold the phone up to show the rest of the study hall. When Ms. P. returned to the study hall, she took the phone from the student and attempted to calm the class down. Several parents complained to the school district.

While these cases are fictional, real cases that have been adjudicated by the Pennsylvania Standards and Practices Commission can be accessed by visiting the PSPC site.