Misunderstood Ohio Teacher Learns Lesson In What Not To Post On Facebook

By Jenna Berris email: , Jan 24, 2013 09:33 AM EST

A middle school teacher from Akron, Ohio faces termination for uploading a photo of her students on her Facebook page. Melissa Cairns, a 33-year old 7th and 8th grade math teacher at Buchtel Community Learning Center, captured and then captioned the image of her classroom after they had covered their mouths with duct tape.

In a television interview with ABC affiliate WEWS-TV in Cleveland, Cairns explained that she gave a student tape and scissors to repair a binder when the student playfully placed the tape over her mouth and laughed.

"The other kids in the class thought it was funny also, and they proceeded to pass the tape and the scissors around the class...and the majority of the class ended up putting a piece of duct tape across their mouth," said Cairns. The kids were simply being silly and asked Cairns to take a photo to capture the moment.

However, taped mouths alone is not what prompted the Akron Board of Education to put Cairns on paid leave on October 19, 2012. She earned a spot in national headlines by publicly distributing the photo via her Facebook profile page, which some may see as an infringement of the children's privacy. She even jokingly captioned it "Finally found a way to get them to be quiet." A facebook friend, and coworker, reported the photo sometime thereafter.

Akron Board of Education President Jason Haas explains where Cairns went wrong, "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."

This is not the first time that someone unintentionally found himself in the wrong side.  Recently, Oregon teen Jacob Cox-Brown was linked to a hit and run report when he wrote about his drunk driving and apologized to the victim.

Cairns told WEWS-TV that she does not believe that this mishap should put her job on the line.

"Do I think that this one stupid mistake should cost me the last 10 years of all the good I've done? Absolutely not," She said.

Fortunately for Cairns, she has managed to garner public media support and the backing of her union.  She is also listed as the Founder and CEO of On My Own Two Feet, a non-profit dedicated to life after domestic abuse, on her Facebook profile page. 

The Akron Beacon Journal reports, "The Akron Education Association is requesting a referee to step in, who will make a recommendation to the school board on the case, said union president Jeff Moats when reached at home on Sunday."

The date of the hearing has not been set.

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