A middle school math teacher is currently on leave while the Akron Public Schools Board of Education investigates an issue where she allegedly took a photo of her students with duct tape across their mouths and subsequently posted the image to her Facebook account.
The post, which reportedly was taken down months ago, purportedly had a caption which said, “Finally found a way to get them to be quiet!!!”
Fox 8 News
reported there were about eight or nine students in the photo. The photo was brought to attention of school officials when a colleague of the teacher reported the posting to a supervisor. Reportedly, the posting was supposed to be a joke.
The image is believed to have been taken in either September or October 2012. The teacher had been on paid leave since Oct. 19, said Akron Public Schools spokeswoman Sarah Hollander, according to the Akron Beacon Journal
. She is currently on unpaid leave after an internal investigation was conducted and it was determined on Jan. 14 the board would seek to terminate her employment.
Currently, the issue in before the district's Board of Education pending a vote. Melissa Cairns, the teacher, has until Jan. 26 to respond to allegations.
Cairns was hired by the district in 2007 as a math instructor. Media reports indicate that she was placed on a "Plan of Assistance" to help improve teaching skills.
News Net 5
interviewed Cairns who explains how the duct tape ended up on the students' mouths. She said that one student's binder broke and she handed the student duct tape to repair it, but the student instead put a piece of tape on her mouth.
"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.
According to the Los Angeles Times
, a portion of the Akron Public Schools' policy warns that personal use of social media websites, such as Facebook, could lead to "unintended consequences".
“While the Board respects its employees' First Amendment rights, those rights do not include permission to post inflammatory comments that could compromise the District's mission, undermine staff relationships, or cause a substantial disruption to the school environment," the policy says.
The teachers' union is appealing the decision to terminate.
“She’d been waiting in limbo and not sure what was going on,” said Jeff Moats, president of the Akron Education Assn., the local teachers union. “She really wants to get back to teaching. She wants to get back to the classroom.”
Cairns said she thought the photo was set to "private" and only her friends would see it.
"That was clearly my huge mistake. What I did was stupid and not well thought out," Cairns said. "Do I feel that this one, stupid mistake should cost me the last 10 years of all the good I've done? Absolutely not."
As social media websites, such as Facebook, become more integrated with daily routines, many people, from parents and teachers to celebrities and politicians, have found themselves in hot after making a post.
What do you think? Should a teacher be fired over this type of Facebook posting?