West Fargo teacher under fire for offensive tweets
WEST FARGO -- A West Fargo special education teacher, a former Miss Montana who won her pageant title on a platform of inclusive education for students with disabilities, is being investigated by district officials for social media posts about her job and her students.
An anonymous group of self-described concerned parents sent a packet of printed-out Twitter posts to media and school officials late last week, including more than 20 pages of tweets from Sheridan Tihista, a special education teacher at Liberty Middle School. In the tweets included in the package, Tihista frequently made references to her work with autistic children, calling mothers of autistic children “monsters” in one post and calling students “satan.”
She also disclosed and described interactions with students, sometimes dismissively. For instance, in one post she said the best part about teaching autistic students is she never has to change up her classroom routine because “we loooove routines!” In another, she posted an image of a text exchange showing someone saying they wanted “attention” as their Christmas gift, then wrote “Basically all my students.”
Tihista’s Twitter account had been public, meaning anyone could read the posts. But on Friday, April 7, she briefly made it private, only allowing approved followers to view her posts. Then she deleted the account entirely.
In a text to WDAY News, she acknowledged the tweets might have been inappropriate.
“My tweets may have been distasteful but don't illustrate what kind of educator I am,” she said. Tihista previously made headlines when she claimed she had been bullied out of her sorority at Minnesota State University Moorhead.
West Fargo school officials weren’t aware of the posts until receiving the package, Heather Konschak, a spokeswoman for the district, said Friday. They will review the material and discuss it with Tihista and her supervisor before deciding whether any disciplinary action is warranted, Konschak said in an email.
A West Fargo School District policy on social media use by employees notes that while expression on such platforms may be covered by First Amendment protections, teachers can still be disciplined for off-duty conduct or posting unbecoming content.