“Finally found a way to get them to be quiet!!!,” the caption read when a US teacher uploaded a photo of her students with tape over their mouths. An apparently innocent joke initiated by the Students themselves, the teacher proceeded to upload the photo, which was seen by colleagues and parents who notified the school. The teacher is now suspended and faces losing her job. The incident illustrates how people use Social Media almost without hesitation to post pictures and comments as events occur, often not considering the impact of what is being posted or how it could be interpreted. Another example of the need to have a comprehensive Social Media policy that is understood by all employees.
The NY Daily news writes: Melissa Cairns said the photo was a joke, but the Akron school board isn’t laughing. The board will vote later this month whether to axe Cairns, who teaches seventh and eighth graders at the Buchtel Community Learning Center, Ohio.
“Students are protected under federal law and they have certain protections … it looked like that potentially violates those protections,” president of the school board Jason Haas told News Channel 5.
The October incident began innocently enough when a student asked Cairns for the duct tape to fix a binder. Instead of using it for the binder, the child used some of the tape to place it over her mouth. The student chuckled, and the laughter was contagious.
“The other kids in the class thought it was funny also, and they proceeded to pass the tape and the scissors around the class,” Cairns told News Channel 5. “The students, the majority of the class, ended up putting a piece of duct tape across their mouth.”
Cairns posted the photo on Facebook, and a colleague saw the photo and reported it. Parents and students were notified, and the principal asked Cairns to take the photo down.
“What I did was stupid and not well thought out”said Cairns. However, she maintains that she didn’t hurt the children. “I would never in a million years do anything to harm students,” she said.