Teacher suing system

WINDER -- A former Apalachee High School teacher is suing Barrow County Schools, alleging she was forced to resign over photos and expletives on her Facebook page.

Ashley Payne claims the school district violated state labor laws because she was never told she was entitled to a hearing. Her attorney, Richard Storrs, said the 24-year-old was ''not made aware of her rights'' and should be granted the hearing.

Barrow County Schools Superintendent Ron Saunders declined comment on the lawsuit because it is a personnel issue.

"We make it a practice to not discuss personnel matters in public," Saunders said. "We do this to protect not only the system, but also employees and non-employees."

Payne resigned Aug. 27 after her principal questioned her about her Facebook page, which included an expletive and photos of her holding wine and beer. She had worked at the school for two years.

The Barrow County Board of Education has a policy on the table on staff and student relations that addresses social media such as Facebook.

The policy, to be voted on by the board Dec. 1, prohibits employees "from establishing personal relationships with students that are unprofessional and thereby inappropriate."

"... Employees who post information on Facebook, MySpace or similar Web sites that include inappropriate personal information such as, but not limited to: provocative photographs, sexually explicit messages, use of alcohol, drugs or anything students are prohibited from doing must understand that if students, parents or other employees obtain access to such information, their case will be investigated by school and district officials and if warranted will be disciplined up to and including termination, depending upon the severity of the offense," the proposed policy states.