Florida High School Teacher Fired Over Internet Pictures and Part-Time Work

We have seen a disturbing increase in police department and schools firing people over their conduct in their private time and lives. We can now add the case of Tiffany Shepherd, a Biology high school teacher from Port St Lucie, Florida. When school officials saw the photos linked below, they fired Shepherd who worked as a “bikini girl” on charter fishing boats.

It appears that some charter boats have bikini girls who sometimes work topless. Shepherd is accused of working such a part-time job. Due to the continuing meager salaries given to teachers, many work part time to be able to continue to teach. My question is why Shepherd’s part-time job is anyone’s business so long as it is legal.

We have seen similar cases of terminations of police officers, click here and here

The outrage of state officials would be more compelling if they paid an adequate wage to teachers. Nevertheless, we seem to be losing any sense of separation between a work life and a private life.

For the full story and pictures (which seem a bit tame for all of this outrage), click here.

33 thoughts on “Florida High School Teacher Fired Over Internet Pictures and Part-Time Work”

  1. Hi Mespo,

    Thanks for looking that up. Is she covered by FMLA? Did she provide the documentation of illness? I don’t know and wish the paper would report more thoroughly on this case. Many people with chronic illness really can’t show up to work as others can but given proper accomodation, do excellent work.

    I haven’t made any decision on this as I don’t have the proper information to make a good judgement. If I can, I will try to find out more info. I’m hoping Raysa will be able to find things out as she is local and probably has the best chance of getting all the facts.


  2. Jill:

    Based on Hugh Gilpatric’s comments, I did minimal research on the topic. Here’s the Palm Beach Post’s reporting on the job action. You can decide for yourself if the official rationale given was substantive or mere pretext. While I too condemn irrational decisions, I am not sure that is the case here. The story reads:

    “Shepherd received two written reprimands for absences and missed more than 30 days this year, said Susan Ranew, the district’s assistant superintendent of human resources.

    Evaluations in her personnel file give her average to above-average marks, praising her as “pleasant to work with” and “intelligent.”

    The file also shows that she had exhausted her sick leave by Sept. 20 and missed 20 days of work by January. Those absences earned her stern letters and a directive to provide documentation for any missed days.

    Shepherd said she has frequent migraines and that one of her three young sons was seriously ill this year. She also said many of her colleagues missed work regularly this year and were reappointed.”

  3. Capeangel:

    Like most people, you are conservative in the abstract, but when you are met with real people and real situations, you let your intellect take over, and judge the case on its merits free from ideology. Congratulations, you are becoming a liberal in the best sense of that word, or more properly, an ethical rationalist.

  4. Raysa,

    As you are on the scene, would you be able to do some reporting on this? Above in his post, J.T. pointed out that the initial job action refered to the pictures. He also asked the question of how the school board has dealt was other teachers who had records of absenteeism. Would you be able to research the answer to these questions and link the answers to this site?

    Without knowing the answer to these facts it does seem this woman is being punished for engaging in legal behavior that occurred off her teaching job.

    I would appreciate your willingness to look into these questions in a factual, objective manner and would like to know what you find out.

    Thank you,


  5. First off I want to say that I am conservative.(44 and not bikini bound anytime soon) If this woman losses her job for what she does on a 2nd LEGAL job I hope she gets what her lawyers ask for. HEre is an intelligent woman who also happens to have a nice body and is pretty. Go get the torches…….hunt down the chick…Please. How about these schools worry about Teaching the kids and keeping pedifiles and drugs away from them. Just a thoguht. Good luck Tiffany.

    Gail from Cape Coral, FL

  6. im a student at the school where ms shepherd taught and she wasnt only fired because of her “job”. she never showed up to school to teach and then once they fired her thats when they found out about her “job” and also because she was trying to pose for maxim and playboy and stuff.

  7. This is actually nothing new (though the internet makes it easier to find out about teachers’ part time jobs and hobbies); there is a morality clause (not sure of the legal term) in most teachers’ contracts; people (mostly women, of course, in a totally underpaid profession as you mentioned) have been fired from their teaching positions for being swingers, etc. It’s ridiculous, of course, and I wish more attention were paid to this subject, especially by someone who can see that being models or actual sex workers (including stripping, etc.) pays better than teaching. I don’t know why it’s legal to underpay and overwork teachers and to harass them in the media whenever they strike for better conditions/pay/benefits, but it’s illegal to turn a trick on the weekend to pay off your student loans. In the public education system people feel that they own teachers WHOLE lives and as such, they’ve always gotten away with demanding they adhere to a “higher moral code” than non-teachers.

  8. The problem with this rationale, Hugh, is that the school officials cited the pictures and job in the initial action. I wonder what the absenteeism of other teachers might be and whether termination is the common response.

  9. There seems to be a bit more to this story. The school district maintains she missed 30 days of school this year and that they fired her for absenteeism, for which she was fired from her last teaching job.

  10. Hi Susan,

    I agree, if it’s legal then it’s not your employer’s concern. I was happy congress actually passed the genetic discrimination bill.

    I notice employers often don’t seem interested in people’s actions on the job such as sexual, racial, homophobic discrimination but they sure are worried about this other stuff.

    (Just had some coffee–OH NO!) Hope you are well.


  11. JT Column:
    My question is why Shepherd’s part-time job is anyone’s business so long as it is legal.

    Mine too! Also, I wonder HOW the school officials became aware of this second job to begin with. In any event, there was no good cause to fire her. Unless someone on the school board made a new “rule” that wearing bikinis is now immoral and is grounds for termination? The word “imbeciles” springs to mind.

  12. Ms. Shepherd needs to do two things to redeem herself: 1. write a very poorly reasoned legal opinion on how it’s really, really O.K. to torture people and 2. submit same to cheney-bush. Not only will she have a new job but the pay will make any second job unnessary.

  13. “Tiffany Shepherd, a Biology high school teacher…who worked as a “bikini girl” on charter fishing boat. It appears that some charter boats have bikini girls who sometimes work topless.
    While I agree this is the new Puritanism, I must add “insert joke here.”

  14. As an aside, I’ll be interested to see what happens to medical practice in MA as a result of this proposed rule change by the Board of Registration.


    Doctors’ group bristles at proposed regulations
    Discipline, moral character at issue
    By Alice Dembner
    Globe Staff / April 19, 2008

    Proposed new rules governing the disciplining of Massachusetts doctors drew strong criticism yesterday from the state’s largest
    physician organization.

    more stories like this

    Speaking at a public hearing, Dr. Bruce Auerbach, president-elect of the Massachusetts Medical Society, said some of the rules would give the state board of medicine too much power over licensing and disciplining, according to his written testimony.

    In addition, he said the board should not even be holding the hearing because it currently lacks two public members.

    The Board of Registration in Medicine has proposed the regulations to reflect changes in medical practice and to make the rules clearer for doctors and the public, Nancy Achin Audesse, the executive director, said in an interview. She said the changes are supported by state law or court rulings.

    Audesse, who announced this week that she plans to retire from the board’s staff this year, said the medical board is operating with a quorum – five physician members. The governor has not filled two seats for public representatives that have been vacant for about a year. She said there was no need to hold up review of the regulations, which will include a second public hearing next Friday, followed by revisions and a vote of the board in May or June.

    Of the proposed regulations, the Massachusetts Medical Society objects to an expansion of the listed grounds for disciplinary action, including a provision that defines “lack of good moral character” based on behavior within or outside of medical practice.

    “Board disciplinary action should be based upon concerns relevant to the practice of medicine,” said Auerbach.

    Audesse said state law makes moral character a requirement for licensure.

    “This is not a new requirement,” she said. “The privilege of holding a medical license requires not only technical skills, but high levels of ethics and morals.”

    The doctors’ association, which includes 20,000 physicians and trainees, objected to a proposed rule that would give the board “sole discretion” to limit a physician’s practice based on problems with his or her experience, qualifications, or professional training. Audesse said the rule merely spells out the board’s mission. “To protect healthcare quality, patients and doctors rely on us to ensure that doctors who practice here are qualified and competent.”

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