Between the blog posts, video, and confessional in the Huffington Post, all within Google’s easy reach, it seemed like 30-year-old Melissa Petro was doing her damndest to sabotage her chances of keeping her job as Bronx elementary-school teacher. (Fair enough; reminiscing about falling for a lesbian stripper in Mexico sounds like more fun.) But she needn’t have bothered to try to get caught. Colleagues at Petro’s school channeled Christian virtues like “Judge not, lest ye be judged” (or was it “See a prostie post, pretend you didn’t”), and either protected Petro or ignored her sordid past, going as far as granting her tenure. As the Post points out, teachers have to be recommended and then approved by principals and local superintendents to get tenure. Bloomberg’s recent proposal to revamp the tenure-approval process with a four-point grading system still doesn’t include a background check.
Months before she was approved, Petro blogged, “A sympathetic administrator asked if I couldn’t publish under a pseudonym.” But Petro, perhaps inspired by their sympathy, took the high moral ground. She wrote to her online followers that she refused to use a fake name, in order to protect the “rights and integrity of myself and every other man or woman who makes or has made choices similar to mine.” We’re not sure how her blog posts protect anyone’s rights, but maybe that’s something she can explain to her elementary-school students.