Susan Creamer is an atheist. She also happens to be a teacher at Merritt Brown Middle School. Right now, she’s under investigation for possibly making disparaging remarks about students who, she feels, have been bullying her due to her beliefs.
Creamer didn’t talk to other teachers, go Facebook Live, or even write a public post anywhere about the situation, though – she asked for advice in a closed Facebook group for local atheists.
— Destin Buzz (@destinbuzz) February 16, 2017
The beleaguered teacher wrote that some boys in her class “are taking turns either inviting me to church or leaving (anonymously) flyers inviting me to church events. … Every time any child sneezes, they loudly say ‘God Bless You!’ and look in my direction. I have complained twice to the principal — once last month and once today. She has spoken privately to one or two of the little cretins, but it seems to do NO GOOD. I am feeling bullied and harassed. It has become intolerable.”
The school district has taken immediate action but it’s not to address the possible bullying of a teacher. Instead, they feel that she was out of line for making disparaging remarks about their behavior.
According to Karen Tucker, a spokeswoman for Bay District Schools, employees are not allowed to criticize students in any way. Human Resources is looking in to the matter to determine whether Creamer is in violation of school policy.
If this was written in a private group, how did it get out? Apparently, a member of the Atheists of Bay County decided to take a screenshot of what Creamer wrote, shared it, and then left the group. Since then, the post has been circulating around the internet.
“I don’t think it matters (if the page is closed), because eventually someone else is going to see it posted, which is what happened,” Tucker said. “People were re-posting. If you said things on there, which she did, about students, no, I don’t think it matters.”
Tucker added that the school “prides itself on providing a safe, protected environment for all students at all times.”
I guess it doesn’t matter, therefore, if a teacher feels safe? Aren’t we supposed to teach our children that respect is supposed to go both ways? If we created a “protected environment” where they cannot be criticized, then the kids that inclined to bad behavior are going to take advantage of that, right?
A statement from the school board also said: “Teachers are encouraged and trained, to keep clear boundaries between their personal and professional lives to ensure that the classroom remains a neutral and supportive environment. This training and related School Board policy includes guidelines for interactions on all social media platforms including, but not limited to, Facebook. We do not condone the use of disparaging comments about our students in any form, on any social media platform or in any school.”
What is neutral and supportive about an environment where students are allowed to make their teacher feel bullied because they don’t agree with her decision to be an atheist.
At least, one member of the Atheists of Bay County page, Jeromy Henderson, has come to Creamer’s defense. “It is it has turned into a modern-day witchhunt,” Henderson said. “The group is closed. It was never meant for public consumption. She was just looking for advice from the group on how to deal with students she felt were harassing her. Yes, her terminology was off-putting, but she was just looking for advice about how to deal with them. She’d already been to her principal and was not getting results.”
Of course, parents are weighing in on the matter too. Crystal Moseley complained that Creamer should not be discussing her religious preferences with any of these students. That’s fair but does that also mean that the students shouldn’t be allowed to say “God Bless You” or proclaim themselves to be Christians?
It feels like a big can of worms has been opened and it’s not just about setting a neutral tone in the classroom. In the current political climate, we might be seeing more of these types of stories popping up on a regular basis.