Published April 29, 2007
MILLERSVILLE, Pa. – A woman denied a teaching degree on the eve of graduation because of a MySpace photo has sued the university.
Millersville University instead granted Stacy Snyder a degree in English last year after learning of the Web-published picture of her, which bore the caption "Drunken Pirate."
Snyder received "superior" or "competent" ratings on her final student-teacher evaluation in all areas except "professionalism," in which she was labeled "unsatisfactory," according to the suit filed Wednesday.
"I dreamed about being a teacher for a long time," said Snyder, 27, of Strasburg, who has two young sons. She now works as a nanny.
The photo, taken at a 2005 Halloween party, shows Snyder wearing a pirate hat while drinking from a plastic "Mr. Goodbar" cup. It was posted on her own MySpace site.
"There were errors in judgment that relate to Pennsylvania's Code of Professional Practice and Conduct for Educators," wrote professor J. Barry Girvin, who supervised Snyder's work, according to the suit.
Snyder did her student-teaching at Conestoga Valley High School in 2006. Conestoga Valley officials told the college they would stop accepting student-teachers from Millersville if she went unpunished, the lawsuit said.
Although Snyder apologized, she learned on May 12 — the day before graduation — that she would not be awarded an education degree or teaching certificate.
Jane S. Bray, dean of the School of Education, in a meeting that day accused Snyder of promoting underage drinking, the suit states.
The federal lawsuit — filed against the university, Bray, Girvin and Provost Vilas A. Prabhu — seeks at least $75,000 in damages. Millersville spokeswoman Janet Kacskos referred questions to a state System of Higher Education spokesman, who declined comment.
"The bottom line is we want the college to bestow the degree and teaching certificate that Stacy earned during four years of hard work and sacrifice," said Snyder's lawyer, Mark W. Voigt.
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