The teacher who allegedly put duct tape on her students and is facing being fired did not actually put the duct tape on as widely reported. The students put the duct tape on themselves according to a ABC Good Morning America report via Yahoo! News on Jan. 23, 2013.
Sarah Hollander, a communications officer for Akron Public Schools, has issued a statement describing of what specifically happened in the duct tape case.
“There were about 15 or 16 middle school students in the class. Eight or nine students put the tape on their mouths. Cairns took a photo and posted it on her personal Facebook page as a joke. The photo wasn’t dated, but was likely taken in late September or early October 2012. … Principal Sonya Gordon asked Cairns to take the photo down. She also alerted parents of students in the class.”
ABC News affiliate WEWS-TV in Cleveland reports that the eighth-grade middle school math teacher at Buchtel Community Learning Center in the Akron public schools district in Ohio told them that “she originally gave one of her students the tape to fix her binder.”
According to the ABC News report, “When the teacher handed the strip of tape to the student, Cairns said, she placed the piece of tape over her mouth and laughed. When the other students saw the girl laughing, they joined in. Next, students asked Cairns to snap a photo.”
According to a Huffington Post report on Jan. 22, 2013,
“One student was using the duct tape to fix a binder and jokingly placed a piece over her own mouth. The student’s peers quickly joined in, and the class encouraged Cairns to take a photo.”
If Melissa Cairns would have reprimanded the girl who placed a piece of duct tape over her own mouth or written her a referral, Melissa Cairns would still be teaching today.
What Melissa Cairns did regrettably do, is post the photo of the duct-taped students on Facebook with the caption, “”Finally found a way to get them to be quiet!!!” After the photo was seen by an Akron public schools worker, Melissa Cairns’ trouble began.
On Oct. 19, 2012, Melissa Cairns was put on paid administrative leave.
On Jan. 14, 2013, “the seven-member board of education was given criteria to consider whether Cairns should be let go.”
On Jan. 15, Melissa Cairns was placed on an unpaid administrative leave.
On Jan. 16, Cairns received a letter informing her of a possible firing. Melissa Cairns was given 10 days to “request a hearing before the board or a referee.”
On Jan. 22, “Cairns requested a hearing take place to determine whether she can keep her job as a math teacher. She is entitled to present her case with a referee present. A date for the hearing has not been set.”
The case that Melissa Cairns has to present is “whether Cairns violated student privacy and how the duct tape was used,” according to the Huffington Post report.
It would be interesting to know whether the school paid for the duct tape or whether Melissa Cairns paid for the school supply herself.
Many teachers today have to spend their own money for school supplies. Many teachers today also spend a lot more time with complaining students rather than laughing students.
Melissa Cairns would have been better off to tell her students that she couldn’t take a picture and live with the students’ complaint rather than the Akron school board’s complaint.
Melissa Cairns understands that posting the photo of her duct-taped students on Facebook was a mistake. Should it be a mistake that is costing Melissa Cairns her teaching job?
Understandably, Melissa Cairns is saying “No.”
“Do I think that this one mistake should cost me the last 10 years of all the good I’ve done? Absolutely not,” said Mellissa Cairns to ABC News affiliate WEWS-TV in Cleveland.
Usually, students and teachers have to follow a school’s or school district’s rules and regulations which are supposed to be provided in writing to students, parents, and teachers.
Did Melissa Cairns have such a guideline or contract that stated what she can and cannot do as a teacher, including rules and regulations in regard to what can and cannot be posted on Facebook?
If not, then Melissa Cairns did not break any rule or law but only made a bad judgement in posting the picture of her duct-taped students on Facebook. Should Melissa Cairns really lose her job?