It wouldn’t be the first time that a head teacher opens a disciplinary procedure against some teacher for his facebook posts, but the offending post must really have the details of disciplinary action and not be a legitimate opinion or the critical sense of a legitimate and free thought. Sometimes the posts made on social media are an exercise of a person’s free thought and no disciplinary implication can be imputed, other times they are an offense to public decency, an unjustified attack on the institutions and then they assume a disciplinary significance. In particular, teachers must be particularly careful of the immoderate and excessively unscrupulous use of the social medium, because this could have disciplinary consequences.
The excesses of some sanctions
There are cases of Facebook posts contested by school principals, with the opening of a disciplinary procedure, which are clearly inappropriate and would not even allow a verbal reprimand or censorship against the teacher who authored the post. This is the case of a teacher who is punished for having shared a nice cartoon on school guidance, censored not to share cartoons of this nature on her Facebook profile. Among other things, the cartoon was the image of a picture depicting the before and after battle of a battle, paraphrasing what happens in schools before enrollment and after enrollment.
The request for a sanction against a teacher is sensational, guilty of having written on Facebook that he loves confrontation with intelligent people and avoids dialogue with stupid people like the plague. is identified in the post, believing that it was directed to her who had held a dialogue two days earlier with the teacher author of the post.
The disciplinary sanction is a tool that should be used as an “extrema ratio” when there are precise and proven elements of an illicit act or a despicable action, it is not a procedure to be used to avenge a personal wrong that the manager thinks he has suffered .
Necessary disciplinary sanction
Sometimes the disciplinary sanction is absolutely necessary, for example when social networks are used to write cruel, racist, violent posts, posts of contempt against the institutions and their representatives, highly harmful posts, the publication of images or videos that go against the professional ethics and the educational role one covers.
Improper use of the social network, even if used outside the teacher’s service hours, could lead to a specific responsibility of a disciplinary nature on the part of the teacher.
Tightening of disciplinary sanctions for the use of social networks
The professional ethics of a teacher does not end when he leaves school or at the end of his working hours, but always continues wherever he is and with whomever he interacts. Even on social media, the teacher is called not to transcend, not to use offensive language and not to write ethically reprehensible things. Teachers who abuse Facebook are at serious risk of disciplinary action. There is an intention to tighten the disciplinary sanctions precisely for teachers who use social media in an inappropriate way to receive a dispute of charges.
The legal part of the 2019-2021 contract renewal should intervene among the topics of discussion regarding disciplinary sanctions. The basic problem on the disciplinary sanctions to be included in the contract is that the trade unions do not deem it appropriate for the headteacher to contest the infringement against the teacher and always the director himself to judge and evaluate the faults and the sanction to be inflicted. It would be, according to the unions, as if the ds were Public Prosecutor and Judge in the same trial, without any guarantee for the defendant. On the contrary, the Administration wants to assign more sanctioning powers to the school manager, this contractual node risks being left to the usual sequence that will never be started, as already happened in the CCNL school 2016-2018.
Teachers on social media, their posts are very often read by school principals and sometimes with disciplinary consequences