Substitute Teacher Alan Francis Fired for Complimenting Student Online

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A substitute teacher in Pennsylvania was fired for a comment he posted online, though the school will not tell him exactly what was said or why they chose to let him go.

Alan Francis worked full-time as a substitute teacher at Steel Valley High School before he was given a “virtual pink slip” from administrators about something he posted online. He worked with the district for several years and was confused as to why a comment to a female student on Facebook or Twitter led to his firing.

Francis said a parent complained about the comment, but he was never told what the comment was about. The district admitted the comment was not vulgar or inappropriate, but did say it was an obvious compliment to the female student that made the parent uncomfortable.

“Supposedly a mother had come forward. They said I made a comment to her daughter on Facebook or Twitter, I guess,” he said.

He said he was always extremely cautious about posting things online as comments are often public. He said he just wants to know what he said and wants the district to explain his firing.

“They haven’t told me what was said or even if I was the one who said it,” Francis said. “They said it was not vulgar, explicit or sexual in nature.”

He hopes that the situation was just a misunderstanding and that it will eventually clear up. He wants to take his job back if they offer it.

“It hurts to get let go this way after seven great years,” he said. “I love the kids there. I love the students. I love the people there.”

The district has refused to comment. Superintendent of Steel Valley Ed Wehrer told a local news outlet: “I appreciate your diligence in gathering as much information as possible about a story before you broadcast it. Our policy is not to discuss personal issues in public, so I have no comment.”