High school teacher Laurie Bailey-Cutkomp, from Zephyrhills, Florida, is under fire this week for making her students wear a “cone of shame.” That’s right: this is the same plastic cone that is traditionally placed around an animal’s neck to prevent it from licking its wounds.
At least eight of her 9th grade students wore the cone of shame during April, according to the Tampa Bay Times. She told district officials that she thought it would be a good way to “redirect student behavior.”
Pasco County schools superintendent Heather Fiorentino has recommended firing the physical science teacher.
The Tampa Bay Times reports:
“I am stunned that you would put dog collars on students for any reason,” Fiorentino said in a letter to Bailey-Cutkomp, a district teacher since 1999. “I am very concerned that you used this collar to punish and embarrass students in front of their peers.”
Reached by phone Wednesday, Bailey-Cutkomp said she could not comment. She referred calls to her lawyer, Mark Herdman, who was in depositions and not available.
Bailey-Cutkomp, who is accused of violating district and state ethics rules, has requested a hearing before the School Board to appeal the superintendent’s decision. A date has not been set. She is no longer in the classroom while awaiting the hearing.
Of course this teacher should be fired. Did she even consider what kind of severe emotional distress she might be causing these children by her outrageous behavior? And if so, did she care?
Even worse, Zephyrhills High administrators said they first learned of the teacher’s actions after parents pointed out photos on Facebook of the students with the cones. So now literally millions of people could have access to those photos, adding to the students’ embarrassment.
As I trained to become a teacher, I never ran across the idea that it was perfectly fine to equate my students with dogs. Discipline, or behavior management, is both essential to ensure that a classroom runs smoothly, and also can be extremely complicated. But putting a student in a cone of shame accomplishes none of the goals of a good classroom management plan.
As a high school teacher, I am angry that teachers like Laurie Bailey-Cutkomp are allowed to have control over students in a classroom. This is a dangerous teacher who should never be permitted to enter a classroom again.
Photo Credit: smsclassof2012