The downfall of Katie Nash as social media coordinator for Frederick County [Maryland] Public Schools was, she said, sealed in a tweet.
On January 5, as a storm approached, a student tweeted a message asking the district to "close school tammarow PLEASE."
Thinking she would combine pedagogy with a little levity, Nash, 34, tweeted from the district's account, "but then how would you learn how to spell 'tomorrow'?" and followed it with a smiley-face emoticon.
District officials did not smile back.
They asked her to delete the tweet and subsequent banter with students about possible school closures, and the student in question received an apology from the district's communications director. On January 13, Nash was fired.
It all set off an uproar on Twitter. Her original tweet had garnered more than 1100 retweets and 1400 likes. The spelling-challenged original poster weighed in, tweeting that he did not take it personally.
That did not matter. Nash's tone and approach to social media were more laid back than her employer liked. The district's communications director, Michael Doerrer, told the News Post that its Twitter feed is expected to convey "an FCPS voice," and Superintendent Terry Alban told the paper that Board of Education members had expressed concerns.
Liz Barrett, the board's vice president, said the tweet "was inappropriate and certainly created a lot of unpleasant responses in terms of other students piling on," according to the paper.
Nash, who reportedly started at her position in November, had been on a probation period. Nash is part of the parent-teacher association and has two children who attend school in the district.