Duct-taped students: Should Ohio teacher be fired?

Duct-taped students: A harmless prank?  An Ohio middle-school math teacher may be fired for posting Facebook photo of her duct-taped students.

(AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
A worker at Henkel Consumer Adhesives in Avon, Ohio, prepares a shipment of duct tape. A math teacher in Ohio faces firing for posting a picture of her students with duct tape on their mouths.

A northeast Ohio middle-school teacher has until later this week to respond to an allegation that she posted a Facebook photo of her students with their mouths covered with duct tape.

The Akron Public Schools Board of Education voted last week to pursue the firing of Melissa Cairns. She's a math teacher at Buchtel Community Learning Center.

The school district says the photo, posted on Cairn's personal Facebook page, showed 8 or 9 out of her 16 students with duct tape across their mouths. The caption read: "Finally found a way to get them to be quiet!!!" The district says a colleague of Cairns' notified a supervisor of the photo.

The Akron Beacon Journal reports that Cairns was put on paid leave Oct. 19. She hasn't responded to requests for comment. Pending Cairns’ request for a hearing, the board is expected to vote on Cairns’ termination at its next meeting on Jan. 28.

The Akron's NewsChannel5 quotes Cairn's as saying that the students started taping their mouths as a joke. Her mistake was to post the picture on Facebook.

Cairn says she gave a girl a roll of duct tape to fix her binder, but the student cut a piece of tape, placed it over her mouth and laughed.

"The other kids in the class thought it was funny also, and they proceeded to pass the tape and scissors around the class. The students, the majority of the class, ended up putting a piece of duct tape across their mouth," Cairns explained.

"I would never in a million years do anything to harm students," Cairns said.

Ironically, Cairns spends much of her time outside of the classroom speaking out against domestic violence. She organizes a marathon in Kent called "On My Own Two Feet", which benefits local women's shelters


The teacher's situation has prompted a lively discussion on the Akron Beacon comment section, including:


16 students with duct tape across their mouths and a caption that read: “Finally found a way to get them to be quiet!!!” Is not even worth a complaint let alone a termination. The board should be let go.  - Indian2

Can't imagine half a dozen or more 13 year-olds leaving duct tape on their mouths for a picture, unless their hands were taped, too. Ergo I suspect this was a joke.

And, if it was a joke and the kids were in on it, perhaps she's actually reached some of them - kids at a tough age in a tough school.

Maybe she's actually a GOOD teacher? - In_credulous


Based on the initial facts, I would have been inclined to believe this was just a 'for a chuckle' incident with willing participants.

While innocent fun, in this day and age it would be deemed inappropriate and the teacher would be privately reprimanded.

But for this situation to have taken approximately 4 months to deal with and for the school board to notify the teacher (and the union) of their intent to fire her for the incident, I have to believe there is a LOT more going on here, either in this teacher's past or revolving around this matter. – Cloverine

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