Idaho High School Coach Fired Over Innocuous Facebook Photo, School District Faces Sexism Charges

    November 12, 2013
    Josh Wolford
    Comments are off for this post.

An Idaho school district is under fire after they terminated a high school basketball coach and part-time teacher for a seemingly innocuous vacation photo that she posted on Facebook.

Pocatello, Idaho School District 25 fired Laraine Cook, a varsity girls basketball coach at Pocatello High School, after they discovered a photo from her Facebook page that showed her fiancé touching her fully-covered breast while posing at a family reunion. Both Cook and her fiancé are wearing bathing suits in the photo.

The school district is also looking into revoking her teaching certificate based on grounds of immorality.

Here’s where the story gets particularly wrinkly. Although Cook was dismissed on October 23rd, the photo that spurred her dismissal was actually taken and posted back in July – and it was only on Facebook for a couple of days. Cook actually removed the photo on the advice of the Pocatello High School Athletic Director, in order to avoid any problems that might spring up.

The School District only learned of the photo’s existence when an image of the photo was mailed to them in October.

“They told me that picture had been received at the district office, and that they were asking me to choose to either resign or be terminated,” Cook said. “I was told the reason I was dismissed was because it had been posted on my Facebook. However, our school district doesn’t have any social media policy.”

And even if they did, this is grounds for immediate termination?

Not only is the school district receiving backlash for the inarguably harsh reaction, but they are also fielding sexism accusations.

While Cook was fired and is facing a future with no teaching license, her fiancé, who is Pocatello High’s football coach, only received a verbal reprimand. He still has his job. The school’s justification? The photo was posted on her profile.

Cook has currently been granted the right to an appeal, and she says that a lawsuit is not out of the question.

Although Pocatello School District 25 doesn’t allow post by others on its Facebook page, it does have reviews. People are sounding off there, and it’s not pretty.

“Your treatment of Lorraine Cook is nothing short of idiotic. You have succeeded only in making Pocatello High School the laughing stock of America. I’m glad Ms. Cook has a good attorney, and I hope the mental midgets responsible for this weapons-grade stupidity pay dearly. You should all be ASHAMED!” says one user.

“The Ruling against the Female Coach is total Hypocrisy and you need to get hip to the 21st century. Scarlet Letters went out several centuries ago. If she is wrong then so is he,” says another.

“Seriously School District 25? YOU ARE A JOKE!! No wonder Idaho is 48th in K-12 education. School district officials are clearly more concerned with teacher’s personal lives, than actually educating Idaho’s youth.”

While it’s true that operating a social media account (especially as a teacher or other public figure) comes with its fair share of risks, it appears that Cook has a pretty strong case here. Not only is the photo far from irresponsible and offensive, but it was removed months ago. Toss in the fact that the male in the photo was given a slap on the wrist and you have a recipe for outrage.

What do you think?

Images via video screenshot, Local News 8 & YouTube

  • Really?

    You have got to be kidding me. Are we this dumb in this nation? I guess so. There is nothing wrong with that picture and whatever a person does in their personal life is their personal life. Kids are shooting up schools and our education system sucks in this country. Go overseas and see what kids are doing. You will be shocked. School districts need to focus on that instead of looking at Facebook pictures.

    I am also getting sick of this puritanical bullshit we are always seeing. Everyone is a saint in this world and pointing fingers at everyone else, but behind closed doors everyone is doing something dirty. I assure you of this. The worst people are the ones doing the finger pointing too.

    • Snake Eyes for Sissies

      There are ways you can protect yourself:

      1. Never post under your own name. Create an alias. Alert your friends while your account is still active. Once you have the people lined up you want kill your facebook page.

      2. Use a VPN to hide your IP address. That way your posts can’t be traced to your IP. There are free VPN services available and they are simple to setup.

      Free speech in this nation is a lie. People will argue it’s not, but employers have become a 3rd form of government. They can fire you for all sorts of reasons that have nothing to do with your work performance which is what we really have been hired for and in the past been measured on. People are fired for things they do in their personal life on their personal time that aren’t against the law. This is very much a sign of corruption. I hope people realize this at some point. The law has turned it’s back on us in favor of special interests.

  • @Really

    I couldn’t say it any better. They need to leave both these teachers alone. No one deals with reality in this country. Pictures like this aren’t making kids have sex. It is the fact kids look like adults and they aren’t like the naive kids of the 1950s. They are much more grown up and have access to more information. But really, kids have sex because they like having sex. It is that simple. Sex is just not a big deal to kids anymore. In fact, countries with a much more open and healthier ideas regarding sex have far less problems. Parents and school officials are so out of touch with reality and that is why our kids have the problems they do today. That is why nothing ever gets better.

    At the end of the day, this school wasted time, money and resources fighting a non-issue and taught the kids at that school a lesson in pettiness. Morons.

    • Bobo

      You’re kidding right? You don’t think “kids” in the 50’s were having sex?…Right, cause the 50’s was actually like Leave It To Beaver.

  • Yes

    And people wonder why the best and brightest of our country never want to go into teaching. You don’t get paid as much as you deserve and you have to put up with a bunch of nonsense. Keep monitoring Facebook Idaho – that is really going to contribute to your kids. Bravo.

  • Chris

    Sounds like someone women is jealous. Here my question though if the man put this on his facebook page do you really think the ladies would approved of it?

    • @Chris

      Honestly, only a self-righteous, nosy fool goes looking on Facebook trying to get other people in trouble. People need to learn how to respect another person’s privacy. It is a freaking picture.

  • Ok

    Who out there really likes a person that is so nosy that they go snooping around Facebook pages. I think they should fire the school board. Really America — do you want a society where your neighbors are constantly snooping and telling on people? Do you really want people like that in your life? You never know when one day they will turn on you.

  • vdanker

    She needs to take them to court, and sue them for everything she can get. Make this type of idiocy public and extremely expensive, and perhaps it will stop.

  • SIgh

    I agree, stupidity should be painful in as many ways as possible. Monetary pain seems to be the only one that these kind of people understand though. Take them for all they are worth and let other school districts know that it will not be stood for.

  • Slobs

    There are some people out there that are so nosy that they just look for reasons to cause other people problems. You ever see these people who set up other people on the internet? Have you ever met them? I have. Those kinds of people are slobs and often have major mental illnesses. They are actually the worst kind of scum and are doing many illegal things in their own lives. I personally know of several of these people. Funny thing was that the police were working with them — that is until they found out that most of them had criminal pasts and serious mental illnesses.

    Moral to the story — if you ever meet someone that loves to look up people on the internet — go the other way and never take them as a friend because one day, they will turn on you. I promise you this.

    This teacher is a victim of people like that. Slobs with no life. This woman did nothing to no one.

  • Loki57

    We really need better legal process to lock away the guilty in cases like this as felons for life.

    The school system’s “morals” clause is really little more than a thinly veiled fraud to illegally discriminate based on subjective (generally religion based) prejudices of select admins and politicians. Such policies are properly not just void, but labor law and public official deprivation of rights under color of law (and conspiracy therein) Federal felonies (18 USC 241 & 242), were the whole of law seriously and honestly upheld.

    It’s overdue that legal process not treat such corrupt officials as if some archaic King’s men above the law, but rather hold BOTH the school system as an institution, AND the individuals behind such illegal discrimination and rights oppression personally liable, as malicious actors outside the scope of any lawful authority. The US Dept of Justice standards of not prosecuting absent proof of willful malice are also badly flawed, as government agents acting as officials backed by tax funding and armed enforcers have a professional obligation to know and obey non-discrimination, and limits on official powers, standards, just as in all too common cases of police felons acting as gangs of violent criminals. This kind of action also amounts to perpetration of hate crimes by those admins or school board members involved.

    Similar issues exist when corporate Web businesses act as “public accommodations” in many jurisdictions (but generally not under USA Federal law), merely by doing business with the public after taking on government privileges of limited immunity as corporations, and then engage in business plans that may cater to actual or imagined prejudices of target customers, or of management. Religion, sex, or ethnic culture based censorship, of some words, ideas, or image content like potentially spiritual substances or body parts one religion treats as evil and another a sign of purity to expose, or with different concepts of artistic or political expression, all properly amount to protected discrimination criteria where at present most businesses are used to getting away with blatantly illegal discrimination, were honest courts to competently analyze the (legal meaning) factual basis of what are often falsely claimed to be neutral TOS policies, but that rarely are over speech content. Generally subjects of content censorship are instead chosen BECAUSE they reflect specific classes of prejudices.

    This case is clearly way over the top as an extreme example of such discrimination, but our mosaic culture (not melting pot as history books claimed) has few taboos or social norms that are neutral or universal, and many that are properly just institutionalized bigotry as excuses to abuse rights of target victims others denigrate. When that crosses from personal and private choices to institutional abuse, by government or institutional equivalents, it’s properly not just a civil law damages issue, but one of serious crime by the persons responsible. An institution rarely acts of its own accord, without being driven by individuals acting out.

  • anton

    In the first place, God made idiots. That was for practice. Then he made school boards.

    Mark Twain

    i could not say it any better.

  • Mary Ann

    When I think of this school board taking such a foolish action against this teacher it makes my blood boil!! ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Children are being bullied, teens are committing suicide, kids are shooting up schools, and this group of people fire this young woman because, in their opinion, she is being immoral! This is a vacation photo for heaven’s sake!! Sooo, what…………her husband’s hand on her fully covered boob in a beach pic makes her a sexual deviant? Give us all a break and devote more of your time, energy, and resources to other, more serious issues like PROTECTING our teachers from this sort of back door backstabbing. They face enough difficulty as it is. What kind of moron sneaks around trolling Facebook pages like this? It’s creepy.

  • Snake Eyes for Sissies

    Also this is far bigger than schools. Just do a quick google for fired facebook posting and you’ll see this is far bigger than this one instance. Also this drives home the fact that you must take the time to learn how to secure your postings. Research it. You can lock down your page pretty tight. You have to keep on top of facebook though because it pulls tricks in regards to security and changes settings so things become public as they change policy. Which means it could be a good idea to ditch facebook entirely which is hard because we want to stay in touch. This is applicable to you directly if you use facebook.

  • Leon

    It is hard to believe that the people who have posted here can find nothing wrong with a person working with high school girls to show herself being fondled sexually on Facebook. The sexual morality of our nation is truly reaching a very low level. I would not want this woman teaching or coaching my daughter and showing by example that sexual promiscuity is okay. Sex is a sacred trust between married people. I say, “No thanks,” to those condoning immorality. It is sad that people no longer care about moral cleanliness or have respect for themselves or others.