A beloved New Hampshire substitute teacher quit her job after her school told her she had to unfriend students on Facebook.
Carol Thebarge, 79, took to Facebook to announce that her 35-year career as a paraprofessional and substitute teacher had come to an end after she was left with no choice but to quit.
"Today will be my last day at Stevens High," wrote Thebarge on her Facebook page. "I was given an ultimatum; to either delete every student from my Facebook page and do not post pictures of them, or be terminated."
"Those of you who know me and my philosophy in life, that of marching to the beat of my own drummer, would assume I would choose the latter of the two choices,” continued Thebarge. “And I did.”
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Thebarge went on to note that the same administrator first asked her to delete thousands of students as friends on Facebook four years ago and said she actually began the process, but after about 50, she stopped.
“At that time, I could not begin to fathom on where to begin,” wrote Thebarge in her post. “Now I have over 3000 … the parents that I had in kindergarten, to those I had in the sixth grade who are now grandparents. It was like picking a needle out of a haystack. And when I did delete at that time, I had students that were asking me ‘what did they do wrong that I would do this to them.’ And then I hid my list. And I realized that I, who always taught them to ‘live their truth’, was demonstrating deceit. So I unblocked it and she [administrator] left me alone. Until now.”
Now, the administrator gave Thebarge the ultimatum after a fellow teacher was accused of sexual assault against a 14-year-old student. The dedicated substitute refused to delete her students, so she decided to quit.
"I will continue to stay in touch with all of them here,” Thebarge continued on Facebook. “No man or institution will dictate my relationships here, or otherwise that are within the range of my own consciousness. This is not rebellion. It is standing up for my beliefs ... for silence and compliance is agreement.”
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School Superintendent Middleton McGoodwin defended the school’s policy and said that although Thebarge is a great teacher, she is not exempt from following the rules.
“In truth, being a caring, lovely woman doesn’t give you immunity to ignore a school board policy that’s designed to protect everyone,” said McGoodwin.
According to reports, a change.org petition was drafted to ask McGoodwin to reinstate Thebarge, and so far, it has gotten almost 700 signatures.