Carly McKinney, teacher suspended over hot Twitter posts, backed by #FreeCrunkBear

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Yesterday, we told you about first-year Overland High math teacher Carly McKinney, who became an instant star after her now-deleted CarlyCrunkBear Twitter account, featuring flirty pics and dope-joke tweets, was discovered by a local TV station. She's now been suspended much to the chagrin of many students and an online community united under the hashtag #FreeCrunkBear.

As we've reported, McKinney, 23, told the station that she shared the account, @crunk_bear, with a friend, and considered it a parody rather than an accurate depiction of her lifestyle. But it still turned heads thanks to photos like this one...

...but especially, this one... ...and this one.... Note that McKinney says a friend with access to the account actually put up shots like the last two. But the feed also highlighted drug references aplenty, including tweets that read "Naked. Wet. Stoned" and "Watching a drug bust go down in the parking lot. It's funny cuz I have weed in my car in the staff parking lot," plus images such as the following: 9News, the outlet that broke the story, quotes McKinney as saying she's actually smoking a cigar. But yesterday, she was put on paid administrative leave anyhow, pending an investigation that actually could move into interesting legal territory, depending on what actions are taken.

As Cherry Creek School District spokeswoman Tustin Amole makes clear in a 9News interview, teachers have as much right to share information on social media as any other person. That means if McKinney is to be fired, other violations will have to be found, such as tweeting while at work or breaking the drug-free-school-zone policy.

This approach mirrors the ouster of former CU professor Ward Churchill, who became a controversy lightning rod after the publicizing of an essay in which he compared 9/11 victims to "little Eichmanns." CU couldn't can Churchill just because administrators didn't like his writings, so the university let him go for other alleged violations, including plagiarism. Churchill responding by suing, and a jury wound up deciding that his dismissal had been retaliatory. But while he only received $1 in compensation and never got his job back, the case dragged through the courts for nearly a decade.

Too soon to say whether McKinney's tale will develop into a landmark free-speech case. In the meantime, though, Twitter Nation is rallying behind her with #FreeCrunkBear tweets.

Continue for more about the Carly McKinney story, including videos. Here are some examples of #FreeCrunkBear tweets:

Here's one example of a homemade T-shirt supporting McKinney -- and smoking weed:

Granted, not all of the tweets from the last 24 hours are especially high-minded. Here are some others that play the situation for laughs.

In the meantime, the local press is eagerly following developments, as indicated by a tweet from the Denver Post's Kurtis Lee to 9News' Todd Walker:

Behold what you've wrought, CarlyCrunkBear.

Look below to see two 9News reports -- the first about McKinney's suspension, the second focusing on student reaction to her suspension.

More from our Tech archive: "Carly McKinney, aka CarlyCrunkBear: Overland teacher outed for hot Twitter photos, pot jokes."

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