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Oceanside Middle School principal apologizes for social media attack

By Stephen Betts | Nov 06, 2020
William Gifford

Thomaston — Oceanside Middle School Principal William Gifford issued an apology this week after posting a crude social media post about President Donald Trump and his supporters.

Gifford did not respond to an email request to comment.

Superintendent John McDonald said "no comment" when asked to respond to Gifford's action.

McDonald said Regional School Unit 13 has a policy on the use of social media by employees.

"The board understands that many school employees use social media for personal purposes on personal time. Employees shall keep this professional social media presence separate from their personal social media. Employees shall not use work time, for personal use of social media.

"School employees are expected to exhibit professional decorum on social media and shall not engage in conduct which distracts from or disrupts the educational process of students or the operations of the schools. Violations of this policy may result in the withdrawal of approval to utilize social media for school purposes and/or disciplinary action, up to an including dismissal, depending on the circumstances of each case," the policy states.

In his initial posting. Gifford said he did not consider Trump as his president and called his supporters "trolls" and a profane word. He later said Trump supporters drive "big trucks"  but have "small [crude slang for male genitalia.]"

In his apology sent to parents Nov. 4, Gifford said "Upon reflection, I understand the importance of putting into practice the lessons that I teach and communicating my concerns in a way that is reflective of the position that I hold.

"It is a great privilege to hold a leadership position and help guide our youth to realize their full potential. With this great privilege, I realize that I have the responsibility to ensure that I demonstrate effective ways to communicate, even when I disagree, in a way that ensures a productive and respectful dialogue."

"You should ask no less of me than I should ask of my students when a mistake is made. That being said, I hope that you can accept my apology and that I can regain your trust and confidence in me as a building leader," Gifford stated.

Gifford has been principal at Oceanside Middle School since its creation, having first been appointed as principal of Oceanside West High School in 2014. He previously was assistant principal at the high school in Rockland, and before that was a long time social studies teacher and alternative education director.

Oceanside Middle School serves students from Rockland, Thomaston, Owls Head, South Thomaston and Cushing.

In the presidential election, former Vice President Joe Biden won overall in those five communities over Trump 5,035 to 3,404. All towns in the district went for Biden except Cushing.

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Comments (8)
Posted by: Brendan Chase | Nov 07, 2020 19:21

Argh. I’m not on Facebook for the very reason of not feeling compelled to respond to all the noise. Alas, having twin 1 year olds at home and daydreaming of their schooling years from now, I need to say that this really concerns me. I voted for Biden and personally found Trump offensive and morally devoid. There are moments in time when outspoken protestors and agitators should be revered (think recently of Colin Kaepernick); however, public education is not a place for it.

 

I’m sure I would fully agree with Mr Gifford and we would rouse about regarding the election, but it is concerning if our educators aren’t setting any better example than those they deplore. I feel this is particularly egregious considering children are so much more impressionable than adults.

 

Please lead by example. I’m sure Mr Gifford is a decent man and will hopefully learn the lesson that children should be afforded their innocence.



Posted by: ANANUR FORMA | Nov 06, 2020 10:48

I wish that candidates would speak only of what they envision.

No attacking allowed in my world,

Only kindness.

I know...dream on.



Posted by: Valerie Wass | Nov 06, 2020 10:17

Ron

This has been the nastiest political race on all sides that I have ever lived through. I voted but if the people I voted for are not elected, I will not be mad, angry or upset. There has been enough of that these last several months. Instead, I will pray for the ones elected that they may turn this country around. I have my faith and will lean on that in faith that this country will become what it used to be. Remember when 9/11 happened? How everyone was helping everyone and you could feel love everywhere? I want that again for this country. I can not change who will be our leaders but I can pray for their choices in guiding this country to change for the better.

 



Posted by: Valerie Wass | Nov 06, 2020 10:14

Francis,

It is not just examples coming out of the White House but the entire political campaign this year that has been so nasty.  All of the candidates running this year have attacked each other.  No one said that it was acceptable for Trump either.



Posted by: HAROLD DOUGHTY | Nov 06, 2020 09:55

There is no excuse for this behavior and I doubt that he would have apologized if not so directed.

 



Posted by: Ronald Dyer | Nov 06, 2020 09:34

I share Mr. Gifford's general opinions on the subjects.

Unfortunately this is a hard lesson on the difficulties with social media, especially if you are a public figure/official or anyone else for that matter. You have to watch what you say sometimes and especially the way you say it.

There is one other lesson to be taken from this as well....

People who you might list as friends are probably not really such, when it comes to hot button issues on which you differ in opinion.

It's a sad statement of the times, but it is what we have become.



Posted by: Francis Mazzeo, Jr. | Nov 06, 2020 09:34

Look at the example coming out of the White House. Many of these people that are appalled by a teacher's comments may have voted for The Donald. Why is it more acceptable coming from him ? I just don't get it.

 

 



Posted by: Valerie Wass | Nov 06, 2020 09:17

He is not the only one that was posting his political opinion.  Many teachers all over the state voiced their opinion in the classrooms and were never reprimanded even though many knew that it was happening.  Personal opinions DO NOT BELONG IN THE CLASSROOM!!!!  I was appalled to hear so many tell me that many teachers were do this.  Thank goodness this awful political race is over.  Almost!



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