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School principal resigns after allegedly cyberbullying kindergartner
Charles Fowler just got an education in shame.
Even in the storied annals of “dumb Facebook posts,” we’ve rarely seen a self-destruction quite this extraordinary. Charles Fowler, an assistant principal at South Carolina’s Walhalla High School, just resigned after comparing a kindergartner in his district to reality TV star Honey Boo Boo.
We’ll let you take a second to absorb that.
Recovered somewhat? OK, so, according to an official statement, the “school district of Oconee County, both in policy and practice, prohibits harassment, intimidation, or bullying of any kind,” but one of its employees “regrettably” posted a photo of a 6-year-old girl in a local Wal-Mart with the caption “Honey Boo Boo in Walmart,” seemingly a reference to both girls’ weight.
Elaine Thompson, the kindergartner’s grandmother, told reporters that the girl stayed home on Monday because of the post. “[Fowler] just picked her out in Walmart and then wants to ridicule her and call her Honey Boo Boo just because she’s overweight. She’s got health problems. I take her to the doctor for that,” she said. “He has devastated my family.”
Her granddaughter took the taunt to heart as well. She “was up until after midnight,” Thompson said, “and she was saying, ‘Nanny, people are calling me Honey Boo Boo.’ She said, ‘Nanny, I’ve got to lose some weight,’ and she said, ‘I don’t want people to see me like this.’
She is so sweet and for someone to hurt her feelings like that—not only hers, but all our family … It’s just so embarrassing, you know, but more hurtful than embarrassing.”
The incident led to a petition calling for Fowler’s termination, which amassed hundreds of signatures, including his own son’s. His daughter, a teacher, apparently attacked him in a comment on his original Facebook post, since removed. On Monday Fowler was placed on paid administrative leave, though the firestorm simply intensified until he resigned the following day. His name no longer appears in the school district’s staff directory.
We sincerely hope that Fowler takes some time to think about what he’s done—not just cyberbullying, but snapping creepshots of children. In some sense, he’s lucky all the furor has been about body image and not his sociopathic hobbies.
Miles Klee is a novelist and web culture reporter. The former editor of the Daily Dot’s Unclick section, Klee’s essays, satire, and fiction have appeared in Lapham’s Quarterly, Vanity Fair, 3:AM, Salon, the Awl, the New York Observer, the Millions, and the Village Voice. He's the author of two odd books of fiction, 'Ivyland' and 'True False.'