OLATHE, Kan. — An Olathe, Kansas, teacher says he was fired because of his TikTok videos.
He’s also a stand-up comedian, but it seems the school district wasn’t amused by his jokes about students.
Stephen Taylor has been a stand up comedian for eight years and teacher for six, mostly recently at Olathe’s Mill Creek Campus alternative school.
“The reason I’m doing comedy on TikTok is to make money because you only pay me $45,000 a year and I work all the time,” Taylor explained.
But a series of videos at the beginning of the school year got him called into HR with the unusual question: How often does he really pass gas near students? That’s something he claimed to do on his TikTok account.
“I tell my students the wrong thing all the time when they annoy me. I tell them Abraham Lincoln invented the car, that’s why it’s named after him,” Taylor said in a video.
He was told to take the videos down and asked to see the district’s social media policy.
The district wouldn’t comment on this personnel matter but gave FOX4 got a copy of the policy, which requires staff on social media to maintain “the same level of personal
responsibility, discretion and professionalism expected in any other form of communication.”
“They don’t understand it. The social media policies are designed for Myspace. They are years behind where we are currently at in the world, which is TikTok is alive and well everyone is on it,” Taylor said.
The policy goes on to say you shouldn’t post anything online you wouldn’t say at a public meeting or to a member of the media. Now Taylor’s talked to both as the district moved for termination after he said he refused to sign a non-disclosure agreement and resign.
“You are going to vote at the end of this to fire a teacher who has incredible evaluations, great relationships with students and cares deeply about their success. I am that teacher, and this is all because of TikTok,” Taylor told the Olathe School Board before they voted to fire him.
FOX4 went to a park near the school to get reaction to one of the videos still on Taylor’s account. The background has been blurred out since the videos were filmed in the classroom after school.
“I tell them Jake Paul and Logan Paul had a great grandfather named Paul Revere because they don’t even know how names work anymore,” Taylor said.
“Bragging about lying to your students — what is that?” Lois Moore responded.
Taylor said it was all a joke, and he’s sure his students understood that. But he’s had to post a video to them to say he’s sorry he’s not their teacher anymore.
“It’s the thing I feel the worst about is the students are the ones suffering, and I know deep down there’s nothing I could have done besides sacrifice all my values and delete the videos and never make another TikTok,” he said.
With no immediate plans to try to return to teaching Taylor says he has 30 standup gigs booked on what he’s calling “The Teacher Shortage Tour.”