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Drunken Pirate Denied Teaching Degree

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Drunken Pirate Denied Teaching Degree

Postby knapplc » Mon May 07, 2007 12:37 pm

Of all the crazy reasons not to give someone a degree they earned, this has to be WAY up there:

MILLERSVILLE, Pennsylvania: A woman denied a teaching degree on the eve of graduation because of a MySpace photo has sued the university.

Millersville University instead granted Stacy Snyder a degree in English last year after learning of the Web-published picture of her, which bore the caption "Drunken Pirate."

Snyder received "superior" or "competent" ratings on her final student-teacher evaluation in all areas except "professionalism," in which she was labeled "unsatisfactory," according to the suit filed Wednesday.

"I dreamed about being a teacher for a long time," said Snyder, 27, of Strasburg, who has two young sons. She now works as a nanny.

The photo, taken at a 2005 Halloween party, shows Snyder wearing a pirate hat while drinking from a plastic "Mr. Goodbar" cup. It was posted on her own MySpace site.

"There were errors in judgment that relate to Pennsylvania's Code of Professional Practice and Conduct for Educators," wrote professor J. Barry Girvin, who supervised Snyder's work, according to the suit.

Snyder did her student-teaching at Conestoga Valley High School in 2006. Conestoga Valley officials told the college they would stop accepting student-teachers from Millersville if she went unpunished, the lawsuit said.

Although Snyder apologized, she learned on May 12 — the day before graduation — that she would not be awarded an education degree or teaching certificate.

Jane S. Bray, dean of the School of Education, in a meeting that day accused Snyder of promoting underage drinking, the suit states.

The federal lawsuit — filed against the university, Bray, Girvin and Provost Vilas A. Prabhu — seeks at least $75,000 (€54,973) in damages. Millersville spokeswoman Janet Kacskos referred questions to a state System of Higher Education spokesman, who declined comment.

"The bottom line is we want the college to bestow the degree and teaching certificate that Stacy earned during four years of hard work and sacrifice," said Snyder's lawyer, Mark W. Voigt.


Maybe there were other reasons besides the picture, but if that's the only reason it's patently ridiculous.

THIS is the picture that allegedly got the woman in trouble:

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Seriously - does anyone think this picture is worth denying a person their degree? Really?
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Postby BGbootha » Mon May 07, 2007 12:44 pm

Yeah I read this the other day and had some questions about it.

1. Was she underage?
2. Was she at a party with students?
3. Did she supply alchohol to anyone underage?

If all of these are NO, then that is crap.
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Postby Tiki » Mon May 07, 2007 12:47 pm

You can't even prove it is an alcoholic beverage....This is some major BS! :-t
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Postby knapplc » Mon May 07, 2007 1:01 pm

BGbootha wrote:Yeah I read this the other day and had some questions about it.

1. Was she underage?
2. Was she at a party with students?
3. Did she supply alchohol to anyone underage?

If all of these are NO, then that is crap.



From what I understand from reading a few articles on this, the answers are:

1. No (25 at time of photo)
2. No
3. No

I'm not 100% positive about nos. 2 & 3, but the fact that any of that information was completely absent from any article I read speaks volumes to me.

From what I can tell, unless the school administration knows way more than we do (which, given the sparse nature of tabloid reporting these days wouldn't surprise me), the sum total of the reason this woman was denied the degree is the above picture.

We'll find out more someday, but at the moment this appears to be why she didn't get the degree.

And it is completley BS.
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Postby Flux » Mon May 07, 2007 1:21 pm

This is total crap.

But this should be a reminder to some people about what they post on their myspace or other personal websites. Tons of companies are "weeding" people out of job contention b/c of personal sites.

If its borderline, dont post it...period (not that I think this was - just poor wording of the caption).



The only thing I can think that would make this kind of bad is if she went out of her way to give the students her myspace account (not that they couldnt find it anyway). But if she did that and subsequently had drinking pictures on it, I could see them being more upset.
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Postby BGbootha » Mon May 07, 2007 1:26 pm

Flux wrote:This is total crap.

But this should be a reminder to some people about what they post on their myspace or other personal websites. Tons of companies are "weeding" people out of job contention b/c of personal sites.

If its borderline, dont post it...period (not that I think this was - just poor wording of the caption).



The only thing I can think that would make this kind of bad is if she went out of her way to give the students her myspace account (not that they couldnt find it anyway). But if she did that and subsequently had drinking pictures on it, I could see them being more upset.


Which is exactly why my myspace is set to private and when I receive messages from my students they ALL go ignored. They have my email if they need me.
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Postby joelamosobadiah » Mon May 07, 2007 1:29 pm

Besides all of the other points, I would have thought that this would have been up to the potential employer and not the college. :-?
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Postby eaglesrule » Mon May 07, 2007 2:33 pm

i work in education news, and I don't think she was drinking either from what I have read, since they gave her a degree in English instead. She is suing, and will probably win. It's stupid since you can't even tell what is in the cup.
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Postby knapplc » Tue May 08, 2007 9:03 am

As crazy as this sounds, it seems like BGBootha's questions above are all "no" answers. This girl doesn't appear to have been drunk, there were no minors present, she was not underage at the time of the photo, and she does not appear to have supplied alcohol to minors, nor is that implied anywhere. Here's an MTV news article about this:

Fact: Stacy Snyder, then 25, wore a pirate hat and held a plastic "Mr. Goodbar" cup up to a camera at a 2005 Halloween party and uploaded the shot to her MySpace page.

Fact: Snyder attended Millersville University in Pennsylvania at the time and was working toward her lifelong goal of attaining a teaching degree.

Fact: The Millersville U. mascot is a swarthy, eye patch-wearing pirate named the Marauder, with a colorful sidekick parrot who goes by the handle Skully.

Fact: When administrators got wind of the photo labeled "Drunken Pirate" just before graduation last year, they decided to deny Snyder her education degree and teaching certificate.

Snyder, now 27, filed a federal lawsuit last week, and has given a series of interviews in which she claims that the university did not give her a chance to explain before it took action.

"The day before graduation, the college confronted me about the picture," Snyder told the Lancaster Intelligencer Journal. (Because of a reportedly vast number of media requests, Snyder, through her lawyer, declined to speak to MTV News about the lawsuit.) "I was told I wouldn't be receiving my education degree or teaching certificate because the photo was 'unprofessional.' "

Even though Snyder apologized, the dean of the University's School of Education, Jane S. Brayer, and its provost refused to issue her a Bachelor of Science degree in education and teaching certificate. Instead, it gave Snyder — a single mother of two who works as a nanny for a local family — a Bachelor of Arts in English degree. In a meeting with Breyer on May 12, Snyder was accused of "promoting underage drinking" with her "drunken pirate" photo, according to the suit, even though she was well above the legal age to drink when the photo was taken.

The suit, which seeks $75,000 in compensatory damages, was filed after Snyder's attorney, Mark W. Voigt, was unable to negotiate an agreement with school officials. He said the dollar amount is not the point; he and Snyder are decrying the lack of due process.

"There's nothing in the bylaws of the school [about posting images on MySpace], and this MySpace thing came up within two days of her graduation and they removed her certification with no hearing and no opportunity to rebut those charges or confront her accusers," said Voigt, who specializes in educational-law issues.

Voigt said that even though Snyder was eventually given an academic hearing, he was not allowed to question witnesses or speak during the meeting, and it did not meet what he considers the requirements of a due-process hearing. "All she wants is her education degrees," he said.

The suit points out that Snyder was on the dean's list and she completed her student-teaching requirements in 2006 at a local high school, and that in a letter dated February 6, 2006, Millersville's acting dean congratulated Snyder as "one of [MU's] finest student scholars." It was one of her advisors on that job at Conestoga Valley High School who saw the MySpace picture and called Snyder at home on May 8 to tell her there was an "issue" they had to discuss, according to the lawsuit.

When the advisor gave the picture to professor/student advisor J. Barry Girvin, he told Snyder she may "lose her teaching certificate due to the incident," the lawsuit states, though he allegedly would not give her any specific information on why that was other than to say it involved a photograph.

In a final student evaluation, Girvin gave Snyder "superior" or "competent" ratings in all areas except "professionalism," where he tagged her as "unsatisfactory." He wrote that there were "errors in judgment that relate to Pennsylvania's Code of Professional Practice and Conduct for Educators." Girvin, however, did not give any specific examples of these alleged code violations, according to the suit.

Millersville Vice President for University Advancement Amy Dmitzak said the situation with Snyder has less to do with her personal Web site — the university has no rules governing what students do on their personal social-networking sites — and more to do with "academic performance." Dmitzak said, however, that she was limited in what she could say about the case due to strict laws in Pennsylvania about student academic records. But she did confirm an academic hearing took place and that the door has not been shut to a potential appeal.

According to the lawsuit, one of the advisors at Conestoga Valley High School told Snyder that posting the picture was "unprofessional" and that if students at the school saw it, they might have "found the photo offensive," though she did not cite any rules or policies to support the claim of unprofessional behavior.




I can't imagine a worse reason to deny this girl her teaching certificate. To imply that the picture that caused this furor is "unprofessional" is ridiculous.

Apparently nobody at that University has ever gone to a costume party? Never consumed alcohol? Never used the word "drunk" or "drunken?" None of them have ever referred to the school mascot in anything other than respectful, glowing terms?

Is that what they're alleging here? Because unless they're all robots, it's pretty safe to say that none of the above is true of the people making this decision.
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Postby Gibbs Baby!!! » Tue May 08, 2007 5:11 pm

I don't believe that this could possibly be the actual reason that she was denied her teaching degree. There was something else, and you're not getting that from the media, for whatever reason. The administration at Millersville would have to realize they would get sued over this.
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