A Land O' Lakes High School teacher could lose her job after she reportedly took disciplinary action against students she suspected of making comments about her on Facebook.
Angelica Cruikshank, who teaches Spanish, improperly gained access to students' Facebook pages to find out what they wrote about her, according to a Pasco County school district investigation.
The district alleges she shared the information with students and tried to use it to keep the other students from going on a class trip to the Salvador Dali Museum, the investigation concluded.
Cruikshank has been suspended without pay.
Superintendent Heather Fiorentino had planned to recommend the school board fire the teacher this week, but that's on hold because Cruikshank is appealing the disciplinary actions.
Her case could come before the school board in April as an employee appeal hearing.
Neither Cruikshank nor Melissa Mihok, a Tampa lawyer who is representing Cruikshank, could be reached for comment Thursday.
In a letter notifying Cruikshank of the plan to fire her, Fiorentino called the teacher's actions "unprofessional and inappropriate."
"You seem unaware of student privacy concerns and used extremely poor judgment in taking the steps you took to address these concerns," Fiorentino wrote.
The teacher's husband, Ian Cruikshank, disputed the school district's version of events in a letter to school board members.
He said his wife became involved only after students came to her concerned about "demoralizing and pretentious remarks about staff and other students" on a Facebook page started by students in the school's International Baccalaureate program.
"My wife had no knowledge she was doing anything wrong and was trying to do what she thought was best," he wrote. "No punishment was brought down on the students that made the demoralizing remarks."
The school district began investigating Cruikshank in February after parents of students in her Spanish classes complained.
Fiorentino's letter to the teacher detailed the following allegations:
On Jan. 30, Cruikshank called a student to the front of the class and told her to sign into her Facebook account using Cruikshank's cellphone, allowing the teacher access to the account throughout the day.
Other students said they were told in front of the class they would not go on the class trip because they posted comments about Cruikshank on Facebook.
One student upset about being singled out approached Cruikshank during his lunch period, gave her his cellphone and allowed her to search through his Facebook account.
Several other students were with him at the time, and Cruikshank gave the group a list of her students with red marks next to the names of those she said had made comments about her on Facebook.
Cruikshank instructed the group to check the Facebook accounts of the students she had marked. If they found comments about her, the red mark remained. If not, the group was to write "OK" next to the name.
In class, Cruikshank singled out students and, in front of the entire class, said they would not be allowed to go on the museum trip because of their Facebook comments about her, Fiorentino's letter states.
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