Saturday, February 03, 2018
Arrest of a substitute teacher in Maryland shows the practical risks of Internet abuse; sudden warning about a Facebook video
A substitute teacher in Charles County, Maryland, about 30 miles SE of Washington DC, was child with showing sexually explicit materials to a minor and child pornography possession, with state charges, after having worked only 34 days. A student reported his texting of another student, WTOP story here.
But the incident shows that, despite fingerprint background checks, it is very difficult for school systems to vet substitute teachers well before hire. They can look at social media, but this may run into First Amendment concerns with public employees. But with substitute teachers principals at individual schools can ban substitutes under any suspicion whatsoever, and most school systems have “three strike” rules.
Just as I was typing this story, I learned of a c.p. video circulating on Facebook from station WJLA7 in Washington, link. It may have originated in Alabama, but was reported to Sinclair news in Cincinnati first. Resharing it is illegal and could lead to prosecution by federal law. But Facebook is likely to have removed the video before it gets very far. The WJLA story notes that resending such a video for "journalistic" purposes would not prevent criminal prosecution. But that statement could, by analogy, raise serious questions about citizen journalism in other areas, like terrorism. But possession of a c.p. image is itself a crime; possession of bomb-making instructions is not, although possession of the actual materials might be.