MIAMI, Fla. – A teacher has been told to stay home from school because of her politically charged social media posts.
And the person who tipped off the district wasn’t even a parent. It was a concerned citizen in an email who said he very disturbed by teacher Audrey Betancourt’s posts. He was especially disturbed by the ones that mentioned violence in conjunction with the recent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
“Political violence is not ok,” said the person who emailed the principal and the superintendent who oversee Coral Way K-8 Bilingual Center in Miami.
He said he was astounded at posts that he read on the social media platform Parler that were posted by Betancourt.
“I was shocked to see Ms. Betancourt’s calling for Nancy Pelosi’s hanging and I was aghast that she was a teacher here in Miami,” the person said.
He said her posts showed a map of the Capitol tunnel system while the insurrection was occurring, plus videos of the Proud Boys, a well-known alt-right white supremacy group.
A recorded message to the school’s parents didn’t explain why the art teacher had been suddenly pulled from the Coral Way school.
The recording stated: “Disturbing allegations have been made against one of our employees.”
A parent outside of the school said Betancourt was “a wonderful teacher.”
Now she is reassigned to home, where she spoke to Local 10 News.
“I never, ever, ever put my views on anyone, talk about politics. Nobody knows anything about my politics or anything like that,” Betancourt said.
The former teacher of the year, who recently earned a master’s degree, defended her right to political speech and activities in her off-time and even to forward others’ posts suggesting politically motivated violence, like the kind at the Capitol.
“Someone like this should not be anywhere close to teaching kids,” the person who sent the email to the school said.
Local 10 News asked the Miami-Dade school district what policy or rules Betancourt might have violated. The district’s decade-old social media guidelines seem to govern only the in-house network and assets. The code of ethics leaves much to interpretation.
And that interpretation falls to the district’s office of professional conduct where there is a review already underway. The question they’ll have to figure out is what does constitute protected speech for a teacher in a public school district?