OLATHE, Kan. (WDAF) — Stephen Taylor has been a teacher for six years, most recently at Mill Creek Campus, an alternative school in Olathe, Kansas. He has also been a stand-up comedian for the last eight years, but it seems the school district employing him wasn’t amused by his jokes about students.
So unamused, Taylor says he was fired for posting videos on TikTok.
“The reason I’m doing comedy on TikTok is to make money because [the school] only [pays] me $45,000 a year, and I work all the time,” Taylor explained to Nexstar’s WDAF.
But a series of videos at the beginning of the school year had him facing an unusual question from administrators: How often does he really pass gas near students?
That’s something he claimed to do on his TikTok account.
“I tell my students the wrong thing all the time when they annoy me. I tell them Abraham Lincoln invented the car, that’s why it’s named after him,” Taylor said in a video.
He was told to take the videos down, to which he asked to see the district’s social media policy.
The district wouldn’t comment on this personnel matter but gave WDAF a copy of the policy, which requires staff on social media to maintain “the same level of personal responsibility, discretion, and professionalism expected in any other form of communication.”
“They don’t understand it. The social media policies are designed for Myspace. They are years behind where we are currently at in the world, which is TikTok is alive and well, everyone is on it,” Taylor said.
The policy goes on to say you shouldn’t post anything online you wouldn’t say at a public meeting or to a member of the media. Taylor says he has spoken to both as the district moved for termination after he said he refused to sign a non-disclosure agreement and resign.
“You are going to vote at the end of this to fire a teacher who has incredible evaluations, great relationships with students, and cares deeply about their success. I am that teacher, and this is all because of TikTok,” Taylor told the Olathe School Board before they voted to fire him.
Taylor reiterated that his TikToks and the jokes he told his students were just that — jokes. He added that he was sure his students understood that. But he has had to post a video to them to say he is sorry he is not their teacher anymore.
“It’s the thing I feel the worst about, is the students are the ones suffering, and I know deep down there’s nothing I could have done besides sacrifice all my values and delete the videos and never make another TikTok,” he said.
With no immediate plans to try to return to teaching Taylor says he has 30 standup gigs booked on what he’s calling “The Teacher Shortage Tour.”