Drunken pirate on MySpace denied diploma
April 28, 2007 11:14 AM   Subscribe

Outragefilter: After a photo labeled "drunken pirate" was found on her MySpace page, 27-year-old student teacher and college senior Stacy Snyder was denied teaching credentials by Millersville University officials. This week, she filed a federal lawsuit against the school.
posted by MegoSteve (69 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
If that really is the picture in question, and the picture really is the only reason they denied her credentials, the university really stepped in it.
posted by aaronetc at 11:18 AM on April 28, 2007


(Dr. Jane S.) Bray (Millersville dean of the School of Education) met with Snyder May 12. She accused Snyder of "promoting underage drinking through her 'drunken pirate' photo. Bray then stripped Snyder of her education degree and teaching certification, according to the lawsuit.
Never mind that she was 25 when the picture was taken.

I realize that I live in Pennsyltucky, home of the Christian Taliban, but it is absolutely horrifying to me that a just a few people (Deann Buffington and Nicole Reinking of Conestoga Valley High School in particular) got a bug up their asses about someone drinking, and were able to get an accredited state-funded university to nullify four years of a students' work in an instant, especially in a time when schools are desperate for teachers.
posted by MegoSteve at 11:21 AM on April 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


Yes, the part about promoting under age drinking is especially funny. As if her teenage students are going to see someone holding a yellow cup and suddenly feel an uncontrollable urge to consume alcohol. Have these people ever watched TV?
posted by crackingdes at 11:24 AM on April 28, 2007


That's it, BAN MYSPACE!
posted by Bappy Lorenzo at 11:28 AM on April 28, 2007


crackingdes, please, TV beer ads are all about Enjoying The Product Responsibly, not becoming drunken. Jeez.
posted by rxrfrx at 11:28 AM on April 28, 2007


She was drinking Mr. Goodbar.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:32 AM on April 28, 2007


Yeah, that's pretty fucked up right there. Welcome to the world, full of capricious bastards who love having power and making people suffer.
posted by delmoi at 11:32 AM on April 28, 2007


Yeah, this is pretty embarrassing as a central PA resident... you'd think the feeling would wear off after a while. See also: the Intelligent Design debacle (at least clear heads prevailed eventually), the most hate groups per sq mile (or is it per capita? this might even be a 'rural legend') in the nation, etc.
posted by synaesthetichaze at 11:32 AM on April 28, 2007


Am I the only one who is outraged by the thought of a pirate teaching our kids?
posted by found missing at 11:36 AM on April 28, 2007 [5 favorites]


Am I the only one who is outraged by the thought of a pirate teaching our kids?

Only if they're not learning proper seamanship skills beforehand. A pirate who can't navigate and swab properly isn't going to make it in today's market.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:38 AM on April 28, 2007 [4 favorites]


See, the real problem is that pirates have a skull and crossbones which suggests paleontology, and thereby evolution.

Can't have our kids thinking that, now could we?
posted by yeloson at 11:39 AM on April 28, 2007


This would never have happened if she were dressed as a ninja.
posted by the_bone at 11:43 AM on April 28, 2007 [6 favorites]


Shoulda had a V-8.
posted by Foam Pants at 11:44 AM on April 28, 2007


Or a big ol' fluffy kitty.
posted by Dizzy at 11:45 AM on April 28, 2007


She's drinking chocolate milk -- on her own time.
posted by ericb at 11:45 AM on April 28, 2007


Snyder, a 25-year-old single mother of two...

I wonder if this had anything to do with it?

Because clearly she is a drunken hussy that should never be allowed to educate children.

Despite the fact that we are in desperate need of people who want to be teachers, and she wasn't a minor, and we don't actually know what she was drinking in that yellow cup, and based upon a gut feeling, I don't think she is actually a pirate.

Other than those things, yeah. She's obviously a bad influence.
posted by quin at 11:52 AM on April 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I dunno, somethings missing here. I'm not believing this is about this picture.

It has the earmarks of a situation no one wants to talk about but was resolved (or so the school thought) by using this lame "picture incident".

Note the plural "errors":

"There were errors in judgment that relate to Pennsylvania's Code of Professional Practice and Conduct for Educators," Girvin wrote in the evaluation.

And does this indicate there's maybe more going on:

Buffington also accused Snyder of "incompetence" and "claimed she should have been removed from her student-teaching position months ago."


Not saying this is right or will stand the court challenge, just that we're apparently not in on the whole backstory.
posted by scheptech at 11:58 AM on April 28, 2007


Not saying this is right or will stand the court challenge, just that we're apparently not in on the whole backstory.

The other back story is, typically, that they don't like each other. It only gets worse from here.
posted by Brian B. at 12:05 PM on April 28, 2007


scheptech writes 'And does this indicate there's maybe more going on'

Maybe.

Or maybe it's just a sleazy, desperate attempt at ass-covering in the face of a law suit?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:05 PM on April 28, 2007


Totally aside from the question of whether this is right or wrong, fair or unfair...

Isn't this (a) a violation of the contract between Snyder and the college and (b) a serious departure from precedent in higher education?

Regarding (a)...When she signs up for the program, there's an agreement there that if she completes the requirements, she'll get the piece of paper, right? Did anyone ever explain that those requirements included not being photographed drinking alchohol? Is there anything in the agreement between Synder and the school - written or otherwise - that could be interpreted this way? I was once enrolled in a teacher certifcation program and I don't recall running into anything like that.

Regarding (b)... I don't think I've ever heard of another case in which a student was denied a degree based on their behavior outside the classroom. Certainly there have been cases where students have broken alcohol related rules and been expelled, suspended, placed on academic probation, etc. In those cases, though, if the student ends up without a degree it's because they didn't complete the requirements, not (directly) because they got shitfaced.

Am I wrong about (b)? Is there some precedent for this? And if there isn't, could this case establish a new standard?
posted by Clay201 at 12:07 PM on April 28, 2007


Am I the only one who is outraged by the thought of a pirate teaching our kids?

As long as they're focusing on the Three Arrrs, it doesn't bother me.

*Keelhauls self*
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 12:09 PM on April 28, 2007 [16 favorites]


She's drinking from a cup advertising a Hershey's product. The Hershey Company (biggest chocolate manufacturer in the world) is located in Hershey Pennsylvania, and is undoubtedly a considerable donor to her school. Hershey's could scarcely dream of better product placement than on a MySpace page of a hip young teacher.

Shouldn't everyone on the development committee of the board of MU be asking the president of the school in tones of extreme anger and exasperation how they ever could have ended up with such an utter imbecile as Jane S. Bray as Dean of the School of Education?
posted by jamjam at 12:11 PM on April 28, 2007


Scheptech, the charge of "incompetence" is challenged in the lawsuit with a claim that would be easily verified, and I assume she would have the documents to substantiate it.
Girvin also issued a final student/teacher evaluation of Snyder and granted "superior" or "competent" ratings in all areas except "professionalism." He gave Snyder and [sic] "unsatisfactory" rating, according to the lawsuit.
Regardless, I think there probably are other reasons besides the photo. Given the location and context, I suspect that her being a single mother just might be some of that.

Also, giving her an English degree instead? WTF?
posted by [expletive deleted] at 12:15 PM on April 28, 2007


In reading the complaint I get the sense that charges of unprofessionalism and changes in prior assessments were made after the photo was discovered. According to the filing, she surely seems to have been highly regarded and performed well in her teaching duties.
posted by ericb at 12:19 PM on April 28, 2007


Anyone else find it ironic that the name of the joint is Millersville?
posted by Hogshead at 12:19 PM on April 28, 2007


Other than those things, yeah. She's obviously a bad influence.

Maybe this wasn't worthy of sanction, but can you say that anything on MySpace (i.e., external to her professional environment) goes? What if she was denying the Holocaust whilst dressed as a pirate on MySpace?
posted by three blind mice at 12:26 PM on April 28, 2007


giving her an English degree instead? WTF?

Higher ed. students who pursue teaching certification often end up with, effectively, a double major. They're supposed to take courses in the subject(s) they will be teaching (in this case, evidently, English) as well as in Education. Since her infraction (if in fact she actually did commit one) was unprofessionalism and not, say, plagiarism, they couldn't very well deny her credit for all those English classes she took. And when they sat down to do the math, the classes and credits were sufficient to warrant a degree in English. Had they denied this to her as well, they probably would have had an even bigger problem on their hands.

I suspect.
posted by Clay201 at 12:31 PM on April 28, 2007


You mean like an ARRRyan?
posted by well_balanced at 12:31 PM on April 28, 2007


rimshot
posted by well_balanced at 12:32 PM on April 28, 2007


A university official told her that the photo was "unprofessional" and could have offended her students if they accessed her MySpace page.

Oh, yeah. I'm sure her students would need years of therapy to recover. Because 16-18 year olds haven't figured out that teachers have an outside life. In fact, some of them still aren't sure if their teachers actually go to the bathroom or not.
posted by jason's_planet at 12:35 PM on April 28, 2007 [2 favorites]


This is a problem I've noticed lately. People treat teachers like they're supposed to be pure out of the classroom. Get real folks, teachers go to parties, drink, have sex, etc. As long as its legal and two consenting adults its fine. Should teachers not be able to drink or party? What kind of batshitinsane world do we live in when we tell people how to live in their private lives beyond the rules of law we already have because of their career. Do doctors, police, fire fighters have to give up drinking, partying and having fun because of the career they choose?
posted by SirOmega at 12:41 PM on April 28, 2007


What if she was denying the Holocaust whilst dressed as a pirate on MySpace?

Ok, I'll play along. So what? If she doesn't bring it into the classroom, who cares what her personal beliefs are? That kind of nonsense is a slippery slope to not wanting homosexuals to teach because the the kids might catch teh gay.

Now if she was denying the Holocaust in class, you might have an argument, but what people do on their own time shouldn't have bearing.

But your's isn't a great analogy, she isn't doing anything explicitly wrong in the linked photo. A slightly better example might be that she was photographed near someone who was known to be a holocaust denier. Or that she was seen in a book-store in front of a rack that happened to contain a book on the subject.
posted by quin at 12:50 PM on April 28, 2007




Well, it's not like the school system needs teachers who are rated "superior" in their practicums.

Stacy is far better-off finding other professional-level work. It will pay better and she will be treated with much greater respect.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:01 PM on April 28, 2007


Yet more proof that when you mix women and seamen, you can get unexpected results.
posted by Malor at 1:04 PM on April 28, 2007 [3 favorites]


If we purged the teaching ranks of individuals who smoke pot and/or drink, the only ones left would be the mouth-breathing creationist types that Jane S. Bray and her ilk would probably prefer to have running the show.

Hey, wait a minute...
posted by The Card Cheat at 1:09 PM on April 28, 2007


If she doesn't bring it into the classroom, who cares what her personal beliefs are?

OK. So anything goes. I'm cool with that. It's not like a teacher publishing something in MySpace would ever find its way into the classroom. That would assume students to have achieved some level of education and computer literacy. No chance of that happening in a public school.
posted by three blind mice at 1:09 PM on April 28, 2007


Not to mention that any teacher who can get through a day of dealing with other peoples' kids (not to mention the parents) and the endless bureaucracy the job entails without reaching for a bottle is a stronger person than me is probably insane to begin with.
posted by The Card Cheat at 1:12 PM on April 28, 2007


OK. So anything goes.

I don't hear anybody saying that, tbm.
posted by The Card Cheat at 1:15 PM on April 28, 2007


Anyone else find it ironic that the name of the joint is Millersville?

No, but maybe if it had been Hempfield High ...
posted by octothorpe at 1:44 PM on April 28, 2007


Note the dates in the article:
On May 8, Buffington called Snyder at home about an "issue" about her "professionalism" as a teacher, according to the lawsuit.

(...)

On May 11, Girvin, Buffington and Reinking showed the "Drunken Pirate" photograph to Snyder, according to the lawsuit.

Buffington told Snyder that posting the photograph on the Internet was "unprofessional" and Conestoga Valley students might find it offensive.

Buffington also accused Snyder of "incompetence" and "claimed she should have been removed from her student-teaching position months ago."

(...)

Bray met with Snyder May 12. She accused Snyder of "promoting underage drinking through her 'drunken pirate' photo. Bray then stripped Snyder of her education degree and teaching certification, according to the lawsuit.

Snyder graduated the next day with an English degree.
I imagine the question of whether there were any prior warnings about "unprofessional behavior" will come up very quickly if this goes to trial, because otherwise it looks like Snyder's entire academic career was decided over the course of four days. Even if the school felt there were other problems with Snyder's conduct, they would've had some obligation to at least warn Snyder well before the end of her final term that her chances of getting a degree were in peril.

Thousands of college students are in education programs across the continent. The vast majority of them go to parties and drink while in school. A lot of them now have Facebook and MySpace accounts. If posting a picture of yourself drinking at a party is grounds for having your education degree revoked, then we're going to see a lot more students in trouble for no good reason.
posted by chrominance at 1:59 PM on April 28, 2007


Also, two notes about the Lancaster Online: one, their favicon says "LOL." Two, they have annoying pop-ups about how I'm using ad blocking software and how I really shouldn't and in the future they might ban me from viewing articles on the site. Good luck with that.
posted by chrominance at 2:03 PM on April 28, 2007


She should move to Oregon. The Oregon legislature is considering a bill to allow convicted prostitute to teach school. I shit you not.

'Forgiveness' bill
gives a second chance

SALEM -- A bill allowing schools to hire teachers who have been convicted of misdemeanor prostitution is heading to the Senate floor. It passed the Senate Education and General Government Committee by a 5-0 vote Thursday.

"Senate Bill 724, if anything, is about forgiveness," said Sen. Margaret Carter, D-Portland. "This says to a young woman -- or man -- there will be a second chance."


My, my. This makes one wonder if there are a lot of ex-hookers who are looking into a career in education.
posted by leftcoastbob at 2:05 PM on April 28, 2007


I wonder if Snyder said something bad about Hershey's no longer using chocolate in that lard-and-dye brown crap they sell as "candy bars"? I'll bet that'd get one canned pretty damn quick in ol' Hersheyville.
posted by five fresh fish at 2:07 PM on April 28, 2007


Millersville is about 30 miles from Hershey, so, kind of far... also, no one gives a shit about Hershey around here anyway, except for their rollercoasters.
posted by synaesthetichaze at 2:13 PM on April 28, 2007


... now, if she talked smack about the Amish...
posted by synaesthetichaze at 2:14 PM on April 28, 2007


... now, if she talked smack about the Amish...

*insert dumb joke about the Amish not being on the internet followed by a handful of bean-thinkin' comments about the depth and breadth of the Amish experience*
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 2:25 PM on April 28, 2007


Hershey's could scarcely dream of better product placement than on a MySpace page of a hip young teacher.

How about being on the MySpace page of a hip young teacher whose lawsuit is being talked about all over the Internet?
posted by aaronetc at 2:26 PM on April 28, 2007


People treat teachers like they're supposed to be pure out of the classroom. Get real folks, teachers go to parties, drink, have sex, etc.

Hell, my 6th grade teacher used to drink right there in the classroom. That's right, Mrs B we all knew that wasn't just coffee.

And how did we know? Because we had parents! Some of us even had older siblings who drank!! We were not pod children, raised in a sterile church basement, we were quite familiar with the effects of a couple glasses of wine, or in your case a half and half coffee/ whiskey mix at 9:30am. Don't worry -we loved you for it. Any kid over the age of 12 knows that drunkenness = permissiveness. So, thank you for the sanctioned paint fights and allowing us to torment student teachers Mrs B, I remember you fondly. It really is too bad you never thought to dress up as a pirate though.
posted by fshgrl at 3:01 PM on April 28, 2007 [2 favorites]


I had a music teacher who took frequent swigs from an omnipresent bottle of cough syrup. Like any of us believed that the contents matched the label of that bottle.
posted by ericb at 3:06 PM on April 28, 2007


A university official told her that the photo was "unprofessional" and could have offended her students if they accessed her MySpace page.

Some piratical students, or more likely their captains, might very well have been offended by her racist (landist?) parody of their proud centuries-old nautical and alcoholic cultural traditions. “Drinkin' from a cup?? Drink yer grog straight from the communal bottle, the way God and Davy Jones intended, or don't be drinkin' at all, ye scurvy land-lubber wench. Arrrr.”
posted by erniepan at 3:34 PM on April 28, 2007


I think her lack of judgement has extended to her choice of chocolate. Everybody knows Mr. Goodbar is the shittiest candybar of all time.
posted by Foam Pants at 4:42 PM on April 28, 2007


Wasn't "Looking For Mr. Goodbar" a novel (and then a movie starring Diane Keaton) about an Elementary-school teacher who
engaged in some rather risky behaviors in N.Y.C.?
Maybe it wasn't fictional.
Maybe it was the real deal.
posted by Dizzy at 5:30 PM on April 28, 2007


Metafilter: a handful of bean-thinkin' comments.
posted by found dog one eye at 6:48 PM on April 28, 2007 [2 favorites]


What shall we do with a drunken teacher
What shall we do with a drunken teacher
What shall we do with a drunken teacher
Early in the morning?
posted by banishedimmortal at 9:07 PM on April 28, 2007


Also, I don't think she should have been denied credentials.
BUT I remember when, as a fourth grader, I found out my favorite teacher smoked in the teachers lounge (yes, this was 1985). It actually did bother me for a while (I don't know if "traumatize" is the right word) because it was hard for me to understand how someone I admired so much was doing something that I had been taught was very bad. I don't know if the real problem is that we had been terrified of any kind of drugs by our "Just Say No" education or what, but I do think that there may be some good reasons for having certain rules about a teacher's behavior, even outside of class. Asking a teacher not to put drunken pictures of themselves on the internet does not strike me as overly restrictive.
posted by banishedimmortal at 9:48 PM on April 28, 2007


It sounds like the college authorities were boneheads for not working this out with her.

Both my parents were public school teachers. So I'll play devil's advocate here.

The key issue is not that the teacher is drinking, or that someone found a picture of her drinking. It's that she's published something herself that says that she's drunk.

Teachers are held to a high standard of professionalism outside of the classroom, and this person's choice to publish a photo of themselves titled "drunken pirate" speaks to very poor judgment on her part.

Now, stepping down from the devil's advocate position, unless this person had a history of bad decisions, I think she's going to win a decent settlement from the college.

She was not yet working as a teacher, and the college could have worked this out with her saying "look, this is a bad idea, what you've done. Take it down and let's move on." Instead, they came down with the ban-hammer. Further, she'll have a very easy time pointing to lost wages due to the college's denying her a degree in her professional field.
posted by zippy at 10:16 PM on April 28, 2007


There has to be more to this story.

I'm reserving my outrage for when the rest of the facts come out.

If it is true as presented, then none of this will matter because Ms. Snyder will be awarded enough to retire in the courts.
posted by Ynoxas at 10:22 PM on April 28, 2007


Actually, I hope you are mistaken Ynoxas, if for no other reason than our country needs enthusiastic teachers. Don't get me wrong, I hope her day in court proves to be successful, I just hope that, she decides to continue teaching.

Hell, she might not even be a good teacher. But the fact that she is willing to keep fighting this makes me want to root for her.

Because anyone who wants to fight to work in our flawed educational system deserves some respect.

And in a perfect world, she is a great teacher. Made moreso by the fact that she is now independently wealthy and doesn't need to teach. She just continues to do so because she likes doing it.

But that is a movie of the week kind of story and probably won't ever happen.

posted by quin at 10:47 PM on April 28, 2007


I finally paid my $5 just to say: DAMN I'm glad I got the hell out of Lancaster County. I'll be stunned if there's more to this story than what's obvious.
posted by rouftop at 11:02 PM on April 28, 2007


a. She did nothing illegal.
b. She harmed no one
c. I don't care if she's Teaching Our Precious Children, nothing she does on her own time that falls under a. and b. is any of our goddamn business.
d. And that includes if she likes to dress up (as a pirate or whatever) and spank consenting adults. And post pictures of it on the web.
e. Any school district that wants to not give her a job as a consequence will be able to do so, because who would know if that was the reason? Which is why a career counselor would probably tell her not to post it.
f. ....but it's still none of her college's goddamn business. She paid for that degree and completed the requirements. That's all they get to ask for.
posted by emjaybee at 6:49 AM on April 29, 2007


it's still none of her college's goddamn business

Well, could be in a technical legalistic sense but future employability in the real world will be dependent on the entirely absent backstory.

If, with their back to the wall now, the school can prove she's been consistently showing "poor judgment" in personal matters then she'll have a hard time finding work regardless. Meanwhile they'll be off the hook and can safely go ahead and award the now-useless degree because the court case will have achieved what not awarding the degree was about: maintaining their reputation as responsible educators of child educators.

If person or persons at the school are just nuts and all they got is that silly picture then that'll come out and she'll be fine, maybe thought something of a hero, a cause celebre. Who knows, maybe Oprah's got her eye on her right now...
posted by scheptech at 9:35 AM on April 29, 2007


I think you guys missed the point. It's not the drinking, it's the pirate costume.

She's obviously a worshiper of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, and is trying to corrupt the youth of Christian Pennsylvania.

The Drinking thing was just a bonus.
posted by jenkinsEar at 10:13 AM on April 29, 2007


This is the one, I think that got her (from the Millersville University Student Code of Conduct:

B. REGULATIONS: Any student or student organization that is found to have committed the following violations on or off campus; that is knowingly and willingly in the presence of a violation; or that aids or abets others in committing a violation is subject to disciplinary sanction: ...

8. Conduct involving the use, possession or distribution of alcoholic beverages on campus or in violation of the law off campus.


Even if she was of legal drinking age, drinking on campus violates the regulation. So, if the picture was taken on campus, she broke that rule. Whether the punishment fits the transgression is now up to the courts.
posted by Doohickie at 8:26 PM on April 29, 2007


I think her "poor judgement" is better proven by the fact that she is 25 and has 2 kids age 9 and 7 rather than her drinking habits. she had a kid at 16 and turned around and had another at 18. I find that a sure sign that she is either, a moron who doesn't know how to take a pill or put a rubber on her boyfriend, or a very unlucky girl who still doesn't have the sense to do the smart thing with her pregancies.
posted by Megafly at 11:20 AM on April 30, 2007


The smart thing being?
posted by five fresh fish at 1:59 PM on April 30, 2007


Even if she was of legal drinking age, drinking on campus violates the regulation. So, if the picture was taken on campus, she broke that rule. Whether the punishment fits the transgression is now up to the courts.

The photo doesn't show what she is drinking, and the caption is a joke. "Drunken pirates" are proverbial, just like drunken sailors, thus the silly caption. She doesn't appear to be drunk, she could be drinking apple juice for all anyone knows.

So she's been denied her teaching credentials not for posting a picture of herself drunk, but for posting a picture of herself wearing a pirate hat and joking about men who lived 300 years ago who drank a lot of alcohol.
posted by jb at 3:54 PM on April 30, 2007


"She was drinking Mr. Goodbar." posted by Burhanistan
LMAO!

posted by petersn1 at 12:45 PM on May 1, 2007


Good point, jb. You don't *know* she's actually drinking anything.
posted by Doohickie at 10:23 AM on May 2, 2007


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