A New York teacher is under fire over his social media attacks on police – and now the school is under fire for protecting him as well.
LEVITTOWN, NY – Most public servants, especially when it comes to law enforcement, fall under department-issued mandated social media policies.
This sometimes collides with one’s 1st Amendment rights to express one’s personal views, but one’s personal right of expression and speech are sometimes sidelined when it comes to them being entrusted to serve the public as a whole.
Being on both sides of this fence, as both a law enforcement professional and now an outspoken civilian, I can see how such policies have come to fruition.
Public servants are just that, paid employees to serve the public, all of the public, and therefore should remain apolitical, open-minded, and whose personal views both displayed while working and not working, should instill trust and confidence in who we serve.
In my entire time in uniform with the NYPD, there was not a person I came in contact with that knew my political leanings, what religion I worshiped, who I voted for, what groups I liked or disliked. It was simply not relevant to my duties and quite frankly, no ones business.
I also can’t recall a time while in school in the 70’s and 80’s where I can recall knowing the same about my teachers. Thirteen years of public school and an additional three at a city college not one can I recall a teacher ever exposing nonetheless pushing any narrative onto the class.
Now I realize that in the days of internet, Twitter, Instagram, and social media … times have changed. But so have the standard and policies, hence why almost every law enforcement agency has a strict social media policy which includes both on or off duty expression and speech.
We’ve seen time and time again where officers are held accountable for not only things they said or posted, but going as far as making a police chief recently get terminated for something a spouse posted.
Oh how times have changed, and changed not only with a free pass, but often times with support from their employers.
This brings me to a Long Island, New York, high school English teacher named Jeffrey Stotsky, employed by the Levittown School District. We were all emotional after what we witnessed take place at our nation’s capitol and hope any and all persons who crossed the legal line be held accountable to the extent of the law.
But Mr. Stotosky wasn’t angry at the alleged Trump supporters.
He wasn’t angry at those who assaulted the over 50 police officer now tragically resulting in the death of a Capitol police officer.
He was not angry at the thugs who broke windows and ransacked offices of our elected leaders.
His anger was at the police!
So angry at the police, in fact, that Mr. Stotsky posted the following:
“Cop taking a selfie with a terrorist. F—k your Thin Blue Line. F—k your Blue Lives, F—k every single one of you back to elementary school who voted for him. I don’t give a flying f—k that you know a good cop”
Wow, talk about anger management!
So more than 50 police officers were injured, one has reportedly tragically succumbed to their injuries, another officer was forced to use deadly force, all to protect our elected officials, and this is what a high school english teacher concludes?
Apparently parents, teachers, students and other school board members saw this public post as a problem and began to alert the school district who shortly sent out a statement authored by Dr. Tonie McDonald saying in part:
“The district has been made aware of an offensive social media post by an employee, and that sentiments expressed are not those of the district and does not align with the values of the district.
That’s a good start – the district administration admitted that the post was offensive and was posted by an employee.
Now onto the cover, in turn justifying not what was said, but the teacher’s right to say it.
“The post was written on a private social media page and as with all American citizens, this employee is guaranteed the right of freedom of speech.”
The investigator in me agrees that this was a post made on a private social media page, but not so fast Dr. Tonie McDonald:
Was the post made utilizing a school issued device?
Was the post made during a time Mr Stotsky was on the schools payroll or school was officially in session either in person or online?
Can you imagine if a Levittown or Nassau County police officer made the same post replacing teacher for cop? Do we not truly believe that the police officer would be suspended immediately pending termination?
If there’s any question to this simply look at the dozens of officers terminated for practicing their 1st amendment rights off duty.
My point is two fold.
First is how is any law enforcement officer whose child goes to the Levittown school district able to trust this teacher and the system that protects him?
Once this teacher finds out that a student has a connection to a law enforcement officer will he be impartial, grade fairly? Per his post, I believe the answer is clear in that he cannot and won’t.
And how are school resource officer going to now respond knowing this individual may be a threat to them?
Secondly, we cannot have two sets of rules as far as 1st amendment protections when it comes to public servants when we compare teacher and law enforcement.
I have written often where educators can indoctrinate and use their classrooms for their own political theater. Both of my children in my local rural high school have been subject to such action which again is most often dismissed by school administrations.
Public servants are paid by the very same tax dollars, in Mr. Stotsky’s case to the tune of $136,242, therefore I agree such servants should be held to a higher standard as far as ensuring the public’s trust.
Public servants are to remain apolitical whose personal views should never intersect with their professional duties.
This wasn’t a case where Mr. Stotsky articulated a cohesive opinion on not liking how the police responded or acted.
No, this was violent rant denouncing the very lives of cops, all cops, and anyone that supports them.
Either those in government administration need to apply social media policies and 1st amendment protection equally to ensure the very intent of such policies, or begin to expect challenges to your very policies at their core.
Law enforcement has no confidence that Jeffrey Stotsky can perform his duties as an educator of their children, nor the Levittown School District including it’s Superintendent Dr. Tonie McDonald, as long as they allow such a person to be charged with the safety, education, and well being of their children.
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Author: Rob O’Donnell