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Drunken Pirate’s Punishment Legitimized

The Washington Post reported this week that the federal case a student at Millersville University has been decided in favor of the school.

Just days before her graduation in May 2006, Millersville University in Pennsylvania, accused student Stacy Snyder of promoting underage drinking, after they discovered a photo on her MySpace page titled “Drunken Pirate,” in which Snyder can be seen wearing a pirate hat and drinking from a plastic cup. (A photo can be seen on The Smoking Gun.)

More information, and the picture, inside.

At the time, Snyder was 25 and working as a student-teacher at Conestoga Valley High School. Snyder maintained that the photo was taken at a costume party off campus and after school hours. But when the university refused to issue her a teaching degree, Snyder sued siting violation of her First Amendment rights.

Today, a circuit court judge who heard the case decided in favor of the school.

The argument for the university’s refusal of the education diploma was that Snyder was representing the school in two capacities: as a quasi-employee and as a student. The university based its actions on evaluation of the MySpace picture in the context of the former position.

We found this FAQ on the IUP page for Education Majors to be helpful in understanding this story.

As per the Pennsylvania Department of Education, for Education Majors, during Step 3, the College of Education “Recommends” you to the PDE for Certification by submitting the 338G Form. On that form, question 15 states: “Have you ever been convicted of a crime classified as a misdemeanor or felony, or are criminal charges pending against you?” If yes, a Letter of Explanation and ALL certified Court Documents must be submitted with the 338G Form. At that point, such application documentation is reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

Interesting. I’ve heard that education majors have to be extra careful about drinking, but does a basic underage– a single underage violation– make a person ineligible to be a teacher in Pennsylvania?

If I am an education major and get charged with UAD, does that mean I will never be able to teach in Pennsylvania?

According to the Pennsylvania Crimes Code (Section 9124), neither summary offenses nor expungements can be used in consideration of acceptance or denial of a state license or certificate. Therefore, you will still be eligible for teaching status in this state. While it is not legal for the state to deny a teaching certificate because of a summary offense, it is legal for a school district to deny employment based on past citations of any kind . Even though a UAD will not appear on a background check, it does remain on record with the University Judicial Office and/or the police and can be accessed by any school district that chooses to search for the information.

This is need to know information for education majors; tell your friends.

It’s appropriate that there are standards for the teachers Pennsylvania matriculates, and a two-strike policy in regards to underages is appropriate. It accommodates for the reality of being in college.

[Washington Post story via the Chronicle of Higher Education]

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About the Author


Creator of @OnwardState. Big fan of sweaters.

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