Catholic School Teacher Fired Over Facebook Posts

Schools in many places around the country are out for the summer or will be shortly.

While there is still certainly time to chill out by the pool, most educators spend summers at all levels preparing materials for the upcoming year and enriching themselves through professional development.

That, however, will not be the case for Abby Nurre.

Nurre was fired by a Catholic school in Iowa for A Facebook posting of a link to a New York Times story about atheism. To access the story she went through an atheist Website she registered for in the process. She also responded to a Facebook survey she didn’t believe in God.

Nurre argued that her spiritual journey had twists and turns and that her personal exploration of faith on a social network shouldn’t be grounds for losing her job. The school and the Iowa Catholic Conference fought her request for unemployment compensation, which she ultimately won in court.

As a teacher keeping an open mind to a wide scope of ideas is necessary regardless of where you are teaching. Few educators have classroom experiences without students of widely varied backgrounds, even in private institutions. Nurre, like anyone else, is entitled to her beliefs, and also like many people, isn’t worried about sharing them on her Facebook page.

The Catholic school, as a private institution, too, has guidelines to follow and latitude in these kinds of employment matters which public schools do not. It would naïve to think the school wouldn’t pursue actions against Nurre, even though none of her students were her Facebook “friends” and thereby not directly linked in to her postings.

Perhaps the greatest lesson here involves career choices. Employers are increasingly checking prospective and current employees’ social networking habits. What you say or post online follows you long after you’ve forgotten what you’ve said.

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  1. Rev. Tim Lehmann said:

    I suppose it depends a lot on how much the school teaches the Bible. I would not want to discover that my children are going to a Christian school, with the intent that they learn in a Bible based environment, that has teachers who openly declare that they believe in God. The sad part about this story, in my view, is that the state chose to reward an atheist (she admitted to not believing in God) for trying to be a teacher in a Christian school. I know that if I were to try to teach in a public school my Christian views would be censored.

    June 1, 2010
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