MOSES LAKE - A heated Facebook argument over teen pregnancy apparently cost a local woman her spot on the Moses Lake School District's substitute paraeducator roster, currently her only job, after a complaint was made by another Facebook user who saw the page.
Coriann Ulrich said this was her third year working as substitute paraeducator for the district. She was not working when the incident occurred last Thursday, she said.
Ulrich said she found a Facebook page about teen pregnancy titled "I hate teen moms" and left an outspoken post saying that responsible women used the tools available to them and avoided pregnancy. She did use "foul language" (in this case, two swear words) in the original post, she said.
About two hours after the original post, a woman who had not been online earlier posted to the discussion. She identified herself as Jenn Gutterud online and Jennifer Saunders in emails sent to the Herald; in her email she said she was from California. Ulrich said she doesn't know Saunders and has never met her.
Saunders bitterly assailed Ulrich's opinion, saying that Ulrich shouldn't have children and that she should "do us all a favor and throw yourself off a cliff." Following that exchange, Ulrich said, Saunders told Ulrich she had informed Ulrich's employers in Moses Lake of the posts. Later that post was deleted, Ulrich said.
In emails sent to the Herald, Saunders said she hoped the school district did not employ people with the values expressed on the Facebook page. Saunders said Ulrich was the moderator of the page, but Ulrich said she was not, and is not affiliated with it in any way.
Ulrich said she didn't believe Saunders had complained to the school district until she received an email from Patty Laughery, the district's human resources director. "The Moses Lake School District no longer needs your services as a substitute paraeducator. The statements posted on Facebook do not fit our Core Principles. The statements were inappropriate and profanity was used. It's important for our staff members to be good role models for our students and community," Laughery's email said.
District Superintendent Michelle Price said she couldn't talk about any case involving personnel. But that in general "for the school district, substitutes are considered at-will employees." Substitutes are considered independent contractors, Price said, and are not subject to the same employment rules as regular employees.
While they aren't employees, district officials look at the people in the substitute pool as candidates for employment, Price said, and any candidate for employment must fit the district's criteria, expressed in the "core principles."
If for any reason a substitute doesn't fit the core principles, their association with the district can be terminated, Price said. She declined to say which of the core principles was violated, but one requires employees to be respectful while embracing differences.
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– CBH Staff