Huntington High teacher fired over anti-Muslim tweets

You are here

Huntington High teacher fired over anti-Muslim tweets
The Herald-Dispatch

A Huntington High School social studies teacher who was suspended two months ago following the discovery of multiple anti-Muslim and racially charged tweets has been fired, Cabell County Communications Director Jedd Flowers told The Herald-Dispatch on Tuesday.

During a special meeting Monday, Flowers said the Cabell County Board of Education voted to approve Mary Durstein's suspension and termination of contract, following an employee hearing that was held in executive session.

In January, school officials were made aware of a number of tweets spanning several years that Durstein made from her personal Twitter account that showed her condoning actions against Muslims and black people. Her Twitter account has since been deleted at the request of the school district.

Durstein's termination was effective immediately.

Flowers told The Herald-Dispatch in January that students were some of the first to make the county aware of Durstein's tweets, sending screenshots to employees at the central office.

Superintendent Bill Smith did not want to comment Tuesday regarding the board's decision; however, in January, following Durstein's suspension, Smith condemned Durstein's actions and said her tweets do not represent the district.

As professionals who interact with students from all backgrounds, Smith said the school system holds its teachers to a higher standard.

"We expect the same conduct on social media that we do in the classroom," he said. "We don't want to deny teachers the access they can have to the internet or Facebook and all the other stuff they want to have, but they need to be cognizant of who they are speaking to. And when what they say interferes with the educational process, it becomes a problem."

Cabell County Schools does have an employee code of conduct, which states, "All Cabell County professional employees shall maintain a safe and healthy environment, free from harassment, intimidation, bullying, substance abuse and/or violence, and free from bias and discrimination."

It goes on to say that employees shall "create a culture of caring through understanding and support" and "demonstrate responsible citizenship by maintaining a high standard of conduct, self-control and moral/ethical behavior."