School Teacher Getting Fired for Posting Photo of Duct-Taped Students on Facebook

January 24, 2013, By Sanjeev Ramachandran

A joke could backfire, and sometimes even cost you your career. Getting the sack due to a misinterpreted Facebook humor would be a hard way to find yourself on the street, and 33-year-old Melissa Cairns found the hard way.

Cairns is a teacher in an Ohio middle school, and an incident that took place in her classroom at Buchtel Community Learning Center proved to be a tad unhealthy for her. This is what happened.

A student came over to her asking for her help to fix her binder. Cairns gave some duct tape to hold it together, and the student found it funny to use the duct tape to plaster up her mouth.


Her classmates copied the act and pretty soon everyone had duct tape over their mouth. The kids wanted this amusing moment to be recorded and asked Cairns to take a picture.

The teacher obliged and even went a step ahead to post it on her Facebook page. She thought it would be funny, and captioned the photo as: “Finally found a way to get them to be quiet!!!”

But it didn’t seem too funny to her colleague, who reported her. Cairns was ordered to remove the photo, which she did, but the school was not through with her and suspended her with a view of firing her.

“Students are protected under federal law and they have certain protections. Has she violated the students’ privacy? That’s what we’re concerned about. Everyone seems to be focused on the duct tape,” said Akron Board of Education President Jason Haas to WEWS-TV.

Perhaps the focus should be on the unnecessary hype the picture seems to have got. “Do I think that this one mistake should cost me the last 10 years of all the good I’ve done? Absolutely not. When your emotions are involved, that’s when you learn things,” Cairns told WEWS-TV.

What the authorities involved should be asking is whether anyone got hurt with Cairns taking such a picture, and that too under request from her students. It is unfair for a teacher to be blamed just because of an innocent incident, which was the students idea of fun and where no one was hurt.

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