N.J. teacher loses appeal of firing for Facebook post

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

PATERSON, N.J. — A New Jersey appellate panel has upheld the decision to fire a tenured first-grade teacher who wrote that she was a “warden for future criminals” in a Facebook posting.

Jennifer O’Brien, who taught in Paterson, posted her remark to 333 friends on March 28, 2011. But it was forwarded and several parents saw it, igniting a firestorm of criticism and national media attention.

O’Brien, who had taught in the district since 1998, appealed her May 5, 2011, suspension.

New Jersey’s Education Commissioner Christopher Cerf upheld an administrative law judge’s dismissal of O’Brien, and she appealed for reinstatement.

A two-judge panel of the Appellate Division of the state Superior Court ruled Jan. 11 that O’Brien’s conduct wasn’t protected by the First Amendment.

O’Brien’s attorney told The Record of Woodland Park that they disagreed with the appeals panel’s ruling.

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