Teachers and Humor: Weighing the Risks and Benefits
In May 2013, Melissa Cairns, an Ohio middle school teacher, was fired for posting a picture to Facebook depicting her students with duct tape covering their mouths. The photo was accompanied by a caption reading “Finally found a way to get them to be quiet!!!” The incident began in class, when a student with a broken binder asked Cairns for a roll of tape. The student then took the tape, and instead of putting it on her binder, she put a piece over her mouth and laughed. The student then proceeded to pass the tape around and about 8 or 9 of her 16 classmates followed suit. The group then asked Cairns to photograph them. Cairns later posted the picture to Facebook with the caption. Another school employee saw the posting and alerted the principal. Shortly thereafter, the board of education voted to dismiss Cairns.