Idaho Teacher's Facebook Flap Triggers New Social Media Policy

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Laraine Cook (left) lost her job as a Pocatello High School coach in October after posting this photo, taken with fiance and fellow coach Tom Harrison (right) during a family reunion in Oregon, to Facebook.
  • Laraine Cook (left) lost her job as a Pocatello High School coach in October after posting this photo, taken with fiance and fellow coach Tom Harrison (right) during a family reunion in Oregon, to Facebook.

What started with a controversial Facebook post and devolved into accusations of gender inequity at an Idaho school district has resulted in a new social media policy.

In October 2013, Boise Weekly first told you about Laraine Cook being fired from her job as a Pocatello High School basketball coach, while her fiance, the Pocatello High School football coach, got off with a slap on the wrist.

The flap stemmed from a social media photograph that showed fiance Tom Harrison touching Cook's right breast.

Cook hired a lawyer and formally appealed through the school district's bargaining grievance process. In late December, a grievance panel concluded that Cook's firing should be rescinded and she should be reinstated as a substitute teacher immediately, with a rehiring as the basketball coach in 2014.

And now the Idaho State Journal reports that the Pocatello School Board will meet this coming Tuesday, June 17, to consider a new social media policy "to improve the awareness of the employee engaging in conduct which could result in negative consequences to employment and licensure status."

The policy also requires educators from refraining from "friending" or "following" any student or parent of a student on private social media sites, and refrain from "posting negative comments, criticism or confidential information about any student, parent or colleague, even in a general sense, that would allow individuals to figure out who is being discussed."


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