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Appeals court upholds firing of teacher who placed sexually explicit ad on Internet

A state appeals court Monday upheld the firing of a tenured San Diego teacher who placed an ad on Craigslist in the "men seeking men" section that included explicit pictures of himself.

The 4th District Court of Appeals overturned a decision by the Commission on Professional Competence that the San Diego Unified School District did not have sufficient grounds to fire Frank Lampedusa, a teacher and dean of students at Farb Middle School.

The appeals court agreed with the school district that Lampedusa's conduct fit the Education Code definition of "immoral conduct." The district had appealed the commission's ruling.

The ad included explicit pictures and a graphic explanation of the kinds of sexual activities that Lampedusa preferred. The ad, however, did not include his name or school affiliation.

In a commission hearing, Lampedusa said he had placed similar ads four or five times in the past. The appeals court, in agreeing with the school district, noted that Lampedusa did not accept that the ad was improper because it might be seen by students or their parents.

Lampedusa was hired in 1999 and served with a termination notice in 2009 after the ad came to the attention of school officials.

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Comments () | Archives (14)

I've seen similar state code provisions which provide that a public school teacher may be fired for, among several things, 'immorality'. My guess is that such provisions most likely are violative of the Due Process Clause as being void for vagueness. Due Process requires that a person have a reasonably clear understanding of what conduct is prohibited. Here, the term 'immorality' is far too vague, open-ended and subjective to place a person on notice as to what conduct might result in employment termination. Just my thought, though. It would be interesting to see this issue appealed.

I thought you had to kill someone or have sex with a student to get fired!!

Finally they actually used "good judgment" to fire someone.

But then again, who out there FOUND THE AD!!

The fact that someone thinks they can put anything they want on a 'public' site and then not have to pay the consequences if that which they posted is seen by their employers, is amazing. If they are employed in the porn industry, then this type of thing is probably not frowned upon, but in any other sector of society it is, and that doesn't require that you be Einstein or just a little bit smart to figure that out.

A stupid move, yes, but a harsh decision because he's gay? I think so.

@Dagrif: Sorry, but it's not that simple. The teacher is a state employee. The termination was state action. And because governmental action is involved, Constitutional rights are implicated. Substantive Due Process requires that a person must have reasonably clear notice of what conduct is prohibited, lest DP be abrogated. Laws that do not reasonably specify what behavior is illicit are Constitutionally-suspect; usually on the grounds of 'void for vagueness'. The question of what conduct by a public employee is 'immoral' is a dicey one. Define 'immoral'. Is working on the Sabbath immoral? Is premarital sex immoral? It's a very slippery slope when the state becomes entailed in the business of defining morality.

He should have not included his face on the personal ad. I'm guessing either one of his colleagues or students saw the ad and recognized him.

You bet there are some people out there that will "seek", search, HUNT down any way that they can have you humiliated and shunned. In this case, get you fired from your job. I mean, honestly I can't imagine there being that many middle-schoolers on the craigslist sex ads. So whoever found this smut was looking for the same thing apparently and came across this golden nugget way to get a teacher fired. The fact that there's a person out there searching for the same this this man wanted, but instead used the info to destroy this mans career is disgusting..

"the ad was improper because it might be seen by students..." I believe this statement is the only reason the Court of Appeals made the correct ruling. If the teacher had posed for sexually explicit photos in an adults-only paper (not Internet) magazine not easily accessible to children, and a parent or other school district employee saw the photos, IMO it would be unconstitutional to fire the teacher in that case, as he would be engaging in legal behavior on his own time off school district grounds. Sexually explicit Craigslist pages, however, are not off limits to children in the same way as adult "non-e" reading material. This teacher was very irresponsible, being aware that children might venture into the site on any computer without a protective firewall and see their teacher exposed. So he cannot be trusted to make responsible decisions regarding the kids in other areas. I agree with the Court's decision only because it protects the children.

I must say I disagree with most of the comments here. My profession is a way to pay my bills and support myself and/or family. What I do in my private life is just that, PRIVATE. Some people choose to express themself sexually different than others, but whose to say wha tis morally correcto rincorrect? If that teacher prefers to have random sex and uses craigslist, an adult site, to find them, I do not think he should be fired for that. I do think it was stupid to include his face, but my sex/personal life is my life and unless I am committing a crime I do not think it is the school's position to tell me what I can and can not do.

We need to stop letting careers decide our liveliehood. They are merely ways to support ourselves

Why don't people mind their own business? Teachers shouldn't be judged on their personal lives. I'm sick of seeing people get dragged through the coals for what they do on their personal time when they have a job like teaching. You sure don't get judged like that if you are a Wall St banker or random office drone. Why is there such a double standard? It is a job that pays the rent and what he did on his personal time off is not anyone's business unless he was abusing someone or doing something non-consensual.

The ad "came to the attention" of school officials because the POLICE informed them of a call they had received from "a concerned parent".

Since when to the police inform employers of perfectly legal conduct on CL?

We are the same stupid society that used to fire teachers when they got married because they were having sex.

The man committed no crime.

The man did not identify himself or his school affiliation in the craigslist ad.

Someone saw the ad, likely a fellow teacher or a student, and they called the police.

The police.

For a craigslist ad.

It seems that what this guy has REALLY been convicted of is being gay.

If it were a heterosexual teacher who did the same thing, they'd be in front of the class teaching today.


What this teacher did on Craigslist is not grounds to be terminated from his job. Anyone who has accessed these online ads knows that the reader must agree that he or she is at least 18-years-old; consequently, this teacher's middle school students should not have been viewing these postings. I truly believe this man was fired for being gay, not for posting these ads online.


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