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Author: Subject: Should this teacher be fired?

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  posted on 1/23/2013 at 12:11 PM


By CHRISTINA LOPEZ | Good Morning America 2 hours 7 minutes ago

An Ohio middle school teacher is fighting to keep her job after a photo was seen on her Facebook page showing students of hers with duct tape across their mouths. The Akron school board is considering whether to terminate her.

Melissa Cairns, a middle school math teacher at Buchtel Community Learning Center, has been on unpaid administrative leave after an Akron public schools worker noticed a photo posted on Facebook of a group of students with duct tape across their mouths. The caption on the photo: "Finally found a way to get them to be quiet!!!"

READ: Professor Suspended After Joke About Killing Students on Facebook

Jason Haas, president of the Akron Board of Education, said the case raises questions about students' privacy and social media.

"This is the start of my sixth year on the board. In that time, we haven't had a case come before us for potential disciplinary action for posting a picture to social media websites," said Haas. "Has she violated the students' privacy? That's what we're concerned about. Everyone seems to be focused on the duct tape."

Sarah Hollander, communications officer for Akron Public Schools, issued a statement describing the 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," said Hollander. "Principal Sonya Gordon asked Cairns to take the photo down. She also alerted parents of students in the class."

READ: California First to Endorse Comprehensive Social Media Privacy Law

Cairns told ABC News affiliate WEWS-TV in Cleveland that she originally gave one of her students the tape to fix her binder. 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.

"Do I think that this one mistake should cost me the last 10 years of all the good I've done? Absolutely not," said Cairns. "When your emotions are involved, that's when you learn things."

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.

Haas told WEWS-TV that "students are protected under federal law and have certain protections." He said, "It would look like that potentially violates those protections."

But will this set a new precedent for the school board? Haas said it's difficult to determine.

"It comes down to how the board feels after the administration presents their case. We've gone with the teacher's side and there's other cases where we've gone with the administration's side," said Haas. "Nothing is cut and dry at all."

On Jan. 14, the seven-member board of education was given criteria to consider whether Cairns should be let go.

The 33-year-old teacher was put on paid administrative leave on Oct. 19. As of Jan. 15, she's been placed on an unpaid administrative leave. On Jan. 16, Cairns received a letter informing her of a possible firing. She was given 10 days to request a hearing before the board or a referee.

"Why was there duct tape in the classroom? How did they [the students] come to have access to it," said Haas. "We'll have these answers to these questions later."

Haas said he believes the hearing will likely be scheduled in late February.

Cairns was hired by Akron Public Schools in August 2007, and first came to Buchtel last August.

 

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True Peach



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  posted on 1/23/2013 at 12:28 PM
I'd fire her. Not necessarily for the duct tape incident, but just for being an idiot. I am amazed that so many people have no sense when it comes to posting stuff on the internet. Especially adults. What lesson do the kids learn from this?

 

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  posted on 1/23/2013 at 12:36 PM
proof positive that being a college graduate doesn't necessarily mean you're smart.

I know teachers and lawyers and others who graduated college and are still clueless.

the lesson the kids learn?

don't be an idiot.

 

Ultimate Peach



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  posted on 1/23/2013 at 12:42 PM
She showed very poor judgement in posting photos of her middle school students on the internet. Perhaps she should be fired. Maybe the parents of the students involved should have a voice in the decision as to whether or not her employment should be terminated.

 

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A Peach Supreme



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  posted on 1/23/2013 at 12:48 PM
yes- you are not there to be a friend. Teachers with smarts do not even accept friend requests from students for facebook, not because they are mean or unsocial, but to avoid exposure in a situation outside of the school that could jeopardize their career.

[Edited on 1/23/2013 by OriginalGoober]

 

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  posted on 1/23/2013 at 01:04 PM
quote:
yes- you are not there to be a friend. Teachers with smarts do not even accept friend requests from students for facebook, not because they are mean or unsocial, but to avoid exposure in a situation outside of the school that could jeopardize their career.

[Edited on 1/23/2013 by OriginalGoober]



Totally agree.

 

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  posted on 1/23/2013 at 01:34 PM
No. IMO It would be ridiculous to sack someone for 1 mistake, especially one as trivial as this. She should be given a chance to learn from it.

 

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  posted on 1/23/2013 at 02:14 PM
quote:
yes- you are not there to be a friend. Teachers with smarts do not even accept friend requests from students for facebook, not because they are mean or unsocial, but to avoid exposure in a situation outside of the school that could jeopardize their career.

[Edited on 1/23/2013 by OriginalGoober]


Really smart teachers avoid Facebook and other social media altogether. Primarily because the personal lives of teachers are all too often held to a higher standard than other professions. And facets of those personal lives can be shared even without "friending" students. Giving details to someone you think you can trust for instance only to have it spread across the worldwide web is an easy mistake to make.

[Edited on 1/23/2013 by Chain]

 

Zen Peach



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  posted on 1/23/2013 at 04:03 PM
let's see..... a teacher cannot be fired for being a crappy teacher but can for making a poor choice in humor. okay

 

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  posted on 1/23/2013 at 05:24 PM
quote:
She showed very poor judgement in posting photos of her middle school students on the internet. Perhaps she should be fired. Maybe the parents of the students involved should have a voice in the decision as to whether or not her employment should be terminated.


I tend to agree with you. She and the kids were having what seemed like harmless fun. I can see kids doing a silly thing like that for laughs. It is not like she taped their mouths shut.

She blew it when she put them on facebook without their parents permission in a photo that could be taken out of context and scary to some who viewed it.

Maybe a suspension will do. That really was a bad choice especially in light of recent events.

 

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  posted on 1/24/2013 at 08:01 AM
quote:
let's see..... a teacher cannot be fired for being a crappy teacher but can for making a poor choice in humor. okay




They can be fired for being a crappy teacher. The key is to not grant them tenure after their three year probationary period (In New York State that is). The problem is that many weak administrators and Boards of Education too readily grant tenure when in some cases the teacher is clearly ineffective and should not be given employment safeguards that come with receiving tenure status.

And while recent reforms in teacher evaluation required of Race To the Top weakens tenure status, the actual revised evaluation process is overly time consuming, cumbersome, and too reliant on standardized test scores to make it practical. Hopefully the state (New York) and local districts, over time, will reach an equilibrium of sorts and develop a more practical evaluation process that doesn't require more time, expense, and effort than is actually required to teach the young people.

[Edited on 1/24/2013 by Chain]

 

Maximum Peach



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  posted on 1/24/2013 at 09:11 AM
What should come out of this, whether the teacher is fired or not, is explicit code of conduct that states no pictures of students should be posted publicly.

I'm fine either way if she is just suspended or fired. Horrendous judgement does not reflect well on her character. We've all made mistakes and mistakes can and should have consequences, often more than just embarrassment. The school district and the parents within it and the tax paying citizens should influence if they want her to be part of their education system going forward, but the thing in my opinion that nationally people should take away is that it is never ok to post pictures of school children publicly and teachers should not engage with them on social media.

 

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  posted on 1/24/2013 at 10:44 AM
When I applied for my NY State permanent teacher certification in 2004 I had to send a video tape of myself teaching a class to Albany. I had to get a signed release from the parent of every student in the classroom in order to video tape them. This video was going to be viewed by some Dept. of Education employees and then destroyed. Any student who did not provide the release was NOT allowed to be in the classroom during the video taping. (A promise of a pizza party for good behavior during the taping inspired all students to get the release signed and be on their best behavior.) I beleive the signed release is common practice for any time you are going to photograph/video tape students for others to see.

 

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  posted on 1/24/2013 at 11:16 AM
quote:
When I applied for my NY State permanent teacher certification in 2004 I had to send a video tape of myself teaching a class to Albany. I had to get a signed release from the parent of every student in the classroom in order to video tape them. This video was going to be viewed by some Dept. of Education employees and then destroyed. Any student who did not provide the release was NOT allowed to be in the classroom during the video taping. (A promise of a pizza party for good behavior during the taping inspired all students to get the release signed and be on their best behavior.) I beleive the signed release is common practice for any time you are going to photograph/video tape students for others to see.


A signed release is standard procedure in my building and is completed at the beginning of the school year and is required of every student.

 

Extreme Peach



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  posted on 1/26/2013 at 12:53 PM
Nobody's made mention of the most howlingly hilarious statement from the school board:
quote:
"Why was there duct tape in the classroom? How did they [the students] come to have access to it," said Haas. "We'll have these answers to these questions later."


So duct tape is a dangerous substance, apparently.
When duct tape is outlawed, only outlaws will have duct tape....

 

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  posted on 1/26/2013 at 01:06 PM
quote:
I'd fire her. Not necessarily for the duct tape incident, but just for being an idiot. I am amazed that so many people have no sense when it comes to posting stuff on the internet. Especially adults. What lesson do the kids learn from this?



My thoughts exactly!

 

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  posted on 1/26/2013 at 05:03 PM
Warned? yes. Put on some sort of notice? sure. Fired? No.

This is a failure of common sense, not a moral violation. If this is a lousy teacher and the school board needs to create some excuse to fire her, I could see them using this. In and of itself, I don't see it as any cause to fire a teacher.

 

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  posted on 1/27/2013 at 09:11 AM

(SARCASM WARNING)


I would fire her. I would also enact legislation that makes it so this tragedy never occurs again. I am going to form a march on DC and put an end to this blatant misuse of power. Someone could have gotten serously hurt here. i will not sleep until justice is done.

 

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  posted on 1/27/2013 at 09:12 AM
duct tape should be banned

 

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  posted on 2/5/2013 at 02:18 PM
quote:
No. IMO It would be ridiculous to sack someone for 1 mistake, especially one as trivial as this. She should be given a chance to learn from it.


My thoughts definitely side more with this train of thought. People are getting too uptight about every little thing. No, the teacher is not there to be their friend, but at the same time if students are having fun AND learning it can be a positive learning situation.

And I say this, because I noticed there is no mention (only assumption) that the high-school kids in question had no clue this would be posted. If they all consented, then I'm not sure there even is an issue.

 

World Class Peach



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  posted on 2/5/2013 at 07:13 PM
There is an issue if the school board says there is an issue. Many teachers' contracts do include some vague wording along the lines of how a teacher must maintain professional conduct outside of school.
Thus, while it does not state exactly what that means, a teacher could sacked for getting a DWI over the summer (seemingly unrelated to school) or for posting something on Facebook that the school board does not like. It depends on how strong the school board is.


 

World Class Peach



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  posted on 2/7/2013 at 12:53 PM

 

World Class Peach



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  posted on 2/7/2013 at 01:07 PM


with the school climate as it is, she messed up big time. it is odd that someone was checking out her facebook page who was hostile, seems a friend who did not like the photo would have at least warned her that it was in poor taste, before hanging he r out to dry.

so it looks like someone was out to ruin her, and she let her guard down and they got her. sad.

welcome to surveillance culture.

 

Ultimate Peach



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  posted on 2/7/2013 at 08:31 PM
Should this teacher be fired? Not only yes, but hell yes. At one time teaching was a "profession", nowadays it's just a "job" for a bunch of liberal arts majors who spend most of time in college "partying" and getting close to graduation, trying to figure out something they can do with their degree, besides working at Starbucks. Is it any wonder, why the U.S. educational system is rated so low in comparsion to other countries. Get teachers (and administrators) who really care about educating their students, and get rid of the damn facebook idiots who masqurade as teachers. Because what the hell are they teaching their students.
 

World Class Peach



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  posted on 2/7/2013 at 11:18 PM
sibwlkr,

Is teaching the only profession where you feel the workers should not use Facebook? Are other professions important too? What about doctors? Should they be forbidden from Facebook?

Do you have some stats that prove that teaching draws different people into the profession now, or is this just a random ramble?

Is posting a photo of one's class actual evidence that a person cannot teach? Can you support that?

You seem angry at teachers, and you don't know how to punctuate. I see a connection. Did your teachers teach you poorly because they were on Facebook, or were you on Facebook when you should have been learning how to use the English language?

 
 


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