Katie Nash worked for Frederick County Public Schools in Maryland as a “web experience coordinator.” Part of that job was to operate the school system’s various social media accounts. Now she has been fired for correcting a student’s spelling on Twitter.
Frederick County Public Schools has fired Katie Nash, an employee who stirred up attention for how she ran the district’s Twitter feed last week, she said.
Michael Doerrer, a district spokesman, said Nash was no longer employed with the school system, but he couldn’t comment on the circumstances.
Nash started working as the web experience coordinator in November. Among her responsibilities was to run the district’s social media accounts.
It appears that Nash was running the social media accounts as social media accounts should be run, by engaging socially.
Here is the tweet that set the wheels of unthinking bureaucracy in motion. Trigger warning: It contains friendly banter and a smiley emoticon.
Shocking, right? “Nathan” is almost certainly scarred for life.
The response from Nash’s FCPS tweet garnered more than 1,000 retweets and 1,000 likes and she became the subject of a hashtag, #KatiefromFCPS. And later #freekatie also appeared in students’ Twitter feeds after a report from local TV station WHAG-TV that Twitter access had been taken away from her.
Nash said that she didn’t want to become a distraction but expected to be given direction on how to proceed in the future. Instead she got her walking papers.
“As a new employee, I think I sort of would have expected that there would have been some counseling or some suggestions on how to improve,” she said.
Nash said there was never a conversation about what the tone of the account was to be.
“Any social media manager is looking for increasing engagement, and that’s sort of the expected parameter,” she said. “I think a conversation about how we engage with students would have been completely appropriate and I would have welcomed that.”
She said, if anything, she hopes her termination causes more people to get involved and interact with the school system.
She gained many supporters in the process and she said she will continue to be involved and will tweet from her personal account, @KatieNash, as a parent to her two children, who are in first and second grade.
“It was really positive and great to see so many students engaged with their school system,” she said. “I wouldn’t change a thing.”
If Frederick County Public Schools feels that an innocent tweet was too embarrassing for them, they probably won’t like getting worldwide attention for making capricious personnel decisions. The story has gained worldwide attention, having been picked up by papers in the UK and Australia.
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