GLADSTONE, Mo. -- The North Kansas City School District says an Oak Park High School teacher is on paid administrative leave while the district looks into his Twitter account, which the district says violates district policy. The district superintendent says it's not necessarily the content or the nature of the tweets that were the problem, it's the fact that the Twitter account was private -- or locked -- that makes it a violation of district policy.
The district says teachers are encouraged to engage with students on social media like Facebook and Twitter in a professional and educational way. But Superintendent Todd White says the rules are clear: the sites must be open and available for parents or administrators to monitor.
"What we want to prohibit here is private conversations between teachers and students," said Dr. White. "If you take the technology out of it and it's a face-to-face conversation, why would we be saying something that we would need to lock someone out of that conversation?"
The teacher's Twitter account is now deleted and we're not naming him because he didn't break any laws. News that he could be disciplined or even fired because of the Twitter account has upset many current and former students and parents.
"He was an amazing teacher," said former student Bryanna Marie Keever. "I hope he comes back. He'll have to face consequences. What he did was wrong, but everyone is hoping and praying that he comes back."
Parent Lisa Rosenbloom says her son followed the teacher's Twitter account. She is aware that some people found some of the tweets borderline questionable but she says she knows the teacher's sense of humor and she thinks this is all blown out of proportion. She says the district should be supportive of a teacher who cares so much about his students.
"I support this man 100 percent," she said. "My son had some issues. He went to him with and he talked to him and helped him and helped so many other students."
But Dr. White says this district policy is here for a reason: it protects the students, as well as the teachers.
"So I feel for the students and the parents who have a good relationship with this teacher," said White. "But we have boundaries in place because safety is our primary responsibility."
The district says teachers could have a private, locked Twitter account if it only involves friends and adults, but in this case it included students. The teacher is on paid administrative leave until the district investigation is complete. No disciplinary action has been determined at this time.