Former high school teacher claims he was fired after video of him rapping surfaced
A local high school teacher is without a job after a YouTube video of him rapping was seen by employers as inappropriate. Now, the educator is fighting back.
IDEA Public Schools considers the video of LonAnthony Parker a violation of their professional and ethical conduct expected from employees, but Parker says the video is part of his past.
"Currently I'm just looking for a job. I'm just looking for a job and trying to get my job back with IDEA," said 34-year-old Parker.
Parker was hired by IDEA Public Schools in Pharr as a substitute teacher in March. After getting a master’s degree in creative writing, Parker was brought on as a 9th grade English teacher.
In September, a parent alerted the school district about a YouTube video showing Parker rapping and holding a machete. He and others are also shown in the video firing guns in the air.
"It's all entertainment, but at the end of the day, it still relates to a certain demographic. I'm from the north side of Houston, Texas,” Parker said. “I walk out of my house and I see nothing but negativity. You have drug dealing. You have killings. You have all types of negativity going on and so basically in the music, that's what you talk about.”
Parker says though he did not post the video, he did tell the district he used to be a rapper before starting his job with IDEA. However, the next day after the video was brought up, Parker says he was escorted from his classroom to the office and fired.
"I've served in the United States Coast Guard. I don't have a record. I have the education. I was hired. Obviously, I beat out a bunch a candidates and now it comes to the fact that, ‘Hey you know what? Now we're going to let you go due to the content on YouTube.’ But the only way that you find this content is if you know what you're looking for,” said Parker.
IDEA Public Schools issued the following statement to CBS 4 News:
“IDEA Public Schools can confirm that Mr. LonAnthony Parker was terminated on September 12, 2017. At IDEA, we have a specific social media conduct policy that states: Employees have a right to participate in social networking sites, blogs, forums, etc. as individuals in the community. However, employees should not post anything that would violate student confidentiality or the professional and ethical conduct expected of IDEA employees. Inappropriate communications, even if made on your own time using your own resources, may be grounds for disciplinary actions up to and including immediate termination. Harassing, obscene, defamatory, threatening, or other offensive content must be avoided by employees when engaging in activity on social media.
Parker is in the process of appealing to the district to keep his job. He says he hasn't heard back yet, but did mention he still believes in what IDEA Public Schools stands for.