“…Are we setting a standard that anyone who speaks out for freedom of speech they’re going to be terminated? How is this going to work?”
A Livingston Parish Public School bus driver, Cynthia Scott, was fired in a 7-1 vote accused of violating the school’s social media policy.
Scott was terminated at a LPSB special session meeting earlier tonight for posting to a private Facebook group for bus drivers. In her post she allegedly critiqued the school board and the superintendent.
In her tearful plea to keep her job she said, “People should not be stripped of their voice and freedoms when they become your employee. I ask for your forgiveness and to allow me to keep my job because I do like my job. I love it. I love my kids, and I don’t feel like I infringed on anybody or defamed anybody. No worse than the email that was sent out about us.”
Scott’s closing speech was met with a round of applause, but her cheers did not change the outcome of the vote.
Her termination made one person at the meeting, Senetta Aimee, question if the social media policy the employees must sign applied to the Superintendent.
“Is she to be made an example for the rest of us get in line. Can we take into account the widely circulated email that Mr. Joe Murphy himself sent out that was then in turn posted to our public school Facebook page. His email was sent out to all employees and parents making it much more public than on a private page,” Aimee said.
She continued on to say, “While both posts were made from obvious states of emotion, both could be said to be unprofessional on either side. So do you terminate one driver and keep the person who admittedly said he should have worded his email differently and is yet to send out any retraction?”
Aimee was not the only person at the board meeting who questioned the innocence of the superintendent.
One person who was only named as Micheal said, “According to all the rules you’re saying Mrs. Cynthia broke, you broke yourself. Why are you not stepping down. One- you blatantly lied in the email, you brought up the attitude and getting in people’s face is not professional.”
Some sections of the discussed Livingston Parish Public School’s social media policy state:
- Employees shall not use Internet postings to libel or defame the Livingston Parish School Board, individual School Board members, students or any employees.
- Employees’ comments related to a school shall always meet the highest standards of professional discretion. When posting, even on the strictest settings, employees shall act on the assumption that all postings are in the public domain.
In regards to the policy, Scott said, “I am not here to argue if I broke the policy but at what point does your policy cross the line.”
Scott’s termination can open the conversation to the constitutionality of the social media policy.
School board member Kellee Hennessy Dickerson said, “She got a lot of information from public meetings. It was a private page that she posted to. Some of the things she said about certain board members’ wives, she shouldn’t have but we’re taking away this woman’s freedom of speech.”
Scott claims she received a phone call from a parish administrator, Bryan Wax, on Nov.14 in regards to a social media post that violated the media policy.
She says the phone call was followed by a recorded meeting.
After this meeting, Scott was placed on administrative leave until tonight’s special meeting where her termination would be discussed.
She claims she asked to speak to Superintendent Alan “Joe” Murphy and Wax allegedly said he would have to get back with her after he spoke with Murphy.
Murphy would not meet with Scott prior to the meeting since he was the one who placed the item on the agenda.
The District 2 representative questioned how Scott could be the only one who broke the social media policy.
“As far as calling people out, I think they have all been called a whole lot worse. I know I have and we’re going to target this particular lady? I have a problem with it. Are we setting a standard that anyone who speaks out for freedom of speech they’re going to be terminated? How is this going to work?” Hennessy Dickerson said.
The termination of the Livingston Parish bus driver, Cynthia Scott may have the ability to lead to an in-depth investigation into what other media posts may have violated the policy, who the policy applies to and the constitutionality of the policy itself.