http://youtu.be/-4GZFbCqx18

I got it bad, I got it bad, I got it bad. I’m hot for teacher. And if you were a student in Stockton CA, that lyric from the old Van Halen song could have taken on a whole new meaning.

Forget whether you like this video (it’s one of my favorites of all time), whether Van Halen’s music is your cup of tea, or what you think of pornography in general. Business change meets pornography, ethics, privacy issues, and some old schoolboy fantasies when a teacher and a police officer start and run pornography web sites.

Let’s focus on those business change issues.

The story here is that a teacher and a cop really were running pornography web sites. They admit as much. The teacher has pretty much dropped out of sight, the content on the web sites has been taken down, and the Facebook fan pages have disappeared, but the police officer, now retired, is being pretty open and unapologetic about the whole thing. And why not? “Ethics” is a broad topic.

So the question is this: when you have a contract implied,  signed, or signed by a middleman like the head of the teachers’ union, that requires a level of ethical judgement which isn’t defined, what’s your obligation?

My answer is both complex, and simple. I won’t step outside certain boundaries that I define for myself, and define them I have. But others might view my actions with an arched eyebrow, and I might never have the chance to explain myself. In short, there’s no answer. So let’s forget that cop. He’s working on a side business and as long as he isn’t breaking any laws or specifically violating a rule prohibiting him from moonlighting, he’s in the clear.

On the other hand, the teacher’s position is more of a problem—unless she isn’t one of the women portrayed on her pornographic web sites. If all she’s doing is running a pornography business and isn’t using her name or image in doing so—and not marketing her outside work to students or other members of the community in which she teaches using her position as an influencer in that community—there’s no moral quandary, is there?

Here’s the rub, and the reason I’m telling this story in a place where business change is the topic at hand: the teacher ran her pornography web site mini-empire using a computer issued to her and owned by the school district. It was a laptop. She was working on her porn business, presumably, from home. But the laptop belonged to the school district. And that’s a simple legal distinction—not a moral or ethical one—both because she wasn’t “supposed to” be doing that and because the day the school district laid its hands on the computer or even tunneled into it to perform maintenance her business became their business.

Remember, there’s no constitutional right to privacy. And despite the New Jersey State Supreme Court having ruled that employers can’t read employees’ private information on company-issued phones, the US Supreme Court overturned that ruling.

Your challenge is finding the right balance, and keeping it. And although business change may start out as a boat-rocking affair, in the end it’s just as much about continued smooth sailing.

Even, maybe especially, when you’re a naughty schoolteacher.

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