Teacher reassigned after posts online

She now works in central office

Staff WriterApril 8, 2010 

— A Wake County middle school science teacher who was suspended for caustic Facebook comments made about her students, Christianity and the South has been moved out of the classroom and into a job in the school district's central office.

Melissa Hussain was reassigned late last month to become the school district's coordinating teacher for middle school science, according to Michael Evans, a Wake schools spokesman. Hussain was suspended with pay on Feb. 12 following complaints from parents at West Lake Middle School near Apex about comments on the teacher's Facebook page.

Evans said Wednesday that he couldn't discuss the results of the school district's investigation of the social networking incident because it involves confidential personnel information.

Christine Boretti, a West Lake parent whose son was in Hussain's class, said she's surprised that the teacher wasn't fired. But Boretti said she's glad Hussain is out of the classroom and no longer working directly with students.

"It was stressful for my kid," Boretti said. "If it's what the school district thinks is best, that's fine with me."

Hussain, 27, declined to comment Wednesday. She had been suspended for more than a month while the school district's human resources department reviewed the matter.

Hussain wrote on the social-networking site that it was a "hate crime" that her eighth-grade students anonymously left a Bible on her desk and that she wouldn't let the incident "go unpunished."

Hussain also wrote about how she "was able to shame the kids" about the Bible incident.

Her Facebook page included comments from friends about "ignorant southern rednecks."

One commenter suggested that Hussain "get even with all of them" by bringing a Dale Earnhardt Jr. poster to class with a swastika drawn on the NASCAR driver's forehead. Hussain's friend added that it would be "teaching" the students a lesson.

"And without a job," Hussain responded to the Earnhardt suggestion. "But I like it!"

The comments were on the public side of Hussain's Facebook page. She has since limited public access.

Boretti acknowledged that Hussain's students weren't entirely blameless but said adults have to be held to a higher standard.

"What the kids did doesn't mitigate what she did," Boretti said.

Teacher's new duties

Evans said Hussain's new duties involve helping Wake's middle school science teachers. He said she'll work on things such as developing learning and teaching guides for classroom teachers.

Evans said Hussain will receive the same salary she had at West Lake of $32,640. Hussain started teaching in Wake in 2006 and had been a teacher at Salem Middle School in Apex until last year when budget cuts forced her to look for a new job at West Lake.

At Salem Middle she was known by her maiden name, Blondun. Her religious affiliation isn't listed on her Facebook page.

In a 2009 interview, Hussain said she was a lateral-entry teacher, with a 2004 degree in biology from Florida State University but not a teaching license. She passed her licensing exam last year after taking teaching courses required by the state.

Murray Inman, whose daughter was in Hussain's class, said parents have been frustrated by the lack of information from school district officials about their review of the Facebook incident. He said he plans to keep a more watchful eye now on what's happening at school.

"I would have liked to have been in the loop with what was going on," Inman said. "But the Wake County school system decided they didn't need to keep parents in the loop."

keung.hui@newsobserver.com or 919-829-4534

News & Observer is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service