A Question of Ethics: Do CCISD leaders hold teacher behavior accountable?

Current Driscoll Middle School mathematics teacher, Lauren Hernandez, daughter of CCISD superintendent Roland Hernandez, has had a photo leak of her at a party handling a large blow-up male genitalia along with the front desk secretary sticking out her tongue.

Robert Driscoll middle school teacher, Lauren Hernandez (in white) and CCISD Senior Administrative Assistant, Damacia Vasquez (in black).

Is that in violation of the district’s Code of Ethics, which state, “The educator shall be of good moral character and be worthy to instruct or supervise the youth of this state.” Some would question what would happen to a male educator had he taken similar photos with blow-up female body parts. Would female students feel comfortable in his class afterwards?

In the current era of social and moral “wokeness,” many in the public have begun to hold celebrities and politicians to a higher standard, leading to the current state of cancel culture. But what about the people who make more of an impact on our children on a daily basis?

In North Carolina, a sixth grade teacher named Kandice Mason was suspended after a video of her pole dancing was leaked from Facebook. Mason is also a pole dance fitness instructor. Her suspension was said to violate her district’s policy “due to violations of the county’s social media policy and the state department of education’s ethics policy for educators.” In Florida, a teacher was asked to resign after bikini photos she posted were leaked from her social media. Does CCISD hold their teachers to those higher standards, or is leniency the rule?

We reached out to CCISD, who directed us to their Employee Handbook. See photos below in regard to Personal Use of Electronic Communications in the CCISD Employee Handbook.

While some social media posts made by teachers are protected under the first amendment, there are exceptions which are called the “balancing test.” If a educator’s social media posts could interfere with her ability to do their job, they may not be covered constitutionally.

UNC School of law professor Mary-Rose Papandrea studies the First Amendment rights of public employees. Papandria says that if a teacher’s posts are purely personal, and not dealing with a broader public issue, it would not protect them under the first amendment. She said school districts do have the power to fire teachers for participating and posting about their risqué activities, even if the social media post was not meant to be public, but was made for a smaller audience.

CCISD official, Leanne Libby, of the Communication Department released a statement on behalf of the situation:

Employees are advised to use privacy settings on their social media accounts and to use caution regarding what they choose to post. While employees have First Amendment rights regarding social media and other forms of communication, speech regarding their official capacity or duties that also disrupts the workplace may be cause for disciplinary action. CCISD does not discuss specific personnel matters.