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Can a teacher be fired for being a former porn actor?

by AirTalk®

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How would you feel about a former porn actor teaching your children? BES Photos/Flickr (cc by-nc-nd)

A middle school teacher has been put on administrative leave by the Oxnard School District, following accusations that she appeared in at least one pornographic film. The teacher’s name hasn’t yet been released, but Oxnard School District Superintendant Jeff Chancer has confirmed that officials are investigating the allegations.

Students from Richard B. Haydock Intermediate School approached administrators last week, saying they’d seen the science teacher in an X-rated movie. Initially the district said the students’ claims were only rumor, but they were subsequently verified. Superintendent Chancer showed the video to the district’s lawyers and the teacher was put on paid leave.

So far, she hasn’t been terminated. But should she be?

Chancer acknowledged that her past behavior outside the classroom isn’t a crime as far as the penal code goes. But added, “…it’s a crime as far as moral turpitude is concerned.” The school sent a letter on March 6 explaining the situation to parents and assuring them that “These allegations do not involve any Oxnard School District students.”

So, what kind of latitude do school districts have in firing employees for conduct that takes place outside the classroom? How does state education code define moral turpitude? If a teacher is good in the classroom but has a racy past, should he or she be fired or accepted?

Guest:

Michele Goldsmith, Partner with the law firm Bergman, Dacey, Goldsmith (BDG); specializes in labor and employment law including teacher dismissal actions

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