Punishing a student is typically one of the last things that an educator wants to do, but it’s an unavoidable reality that nearly all must face at one point.
Sometimes, however, teachers and administrators cross the line, delivering consequences that go well beyond the limits of what would be considered acceptable in a school setting.
Education World has compiled five shocking stories of school punishments that have raised eyebrows in the education community.
Collars of Shame
Florida high school science teacher Laurie Bailey-Cutkomp had a total of eight students wear a dog collar known as the “cone of shame,” since it’s used to keep an animal from licking and biting itself following surgery.
The Zephyrhills High School students, after arriving late to class, opted to wear the collars in lieu of sitting at the “tardy table.”
Students who picked the collar punishment sat in the corner while wearing the device, properly known as an Elizabethan collar.
Bailey-Cutkomp was suspended.
In Milwaukee, WI, 7-year-old Lamya Cammon played with the beads in her braided hair during class. The teacher requested that Cammon stop, but the girl persisted. The teacher then attracted the young girl to the front desk with candy and proceeded to cut off one of Cammon’s braids with a pair of scissors. Cammon was sent back to her desk crying, while the other children laughed and taunted her without reprimand.
Cammon’s mother, angry with the teacher, confronted her about her daughter’s impromptu haircut. It resulted in the police fining the teacher $175 and requiring her to take a course on appropriate discipline. Cammon was transferred to a new class.
Two male high school students from Mesa, AZ, were caught fighting. The school gave the boys two options. They could either be suspended or hold hands for 15 minutes in the center of the school’s courtyard. The two opted for the courtyard experience.
They were photographed during this punishment as bystanders shouted homophobic insults at them. When some complained about the boys’ treatment, the school district responded by saying it didn’t condone the punishment. Afterwards, however, the school supported the teacher’s intentions and noted the discipline’s effectiveness.
Kicked Out by Kindergarteners
Five-year-old Alex Barton’s behavioral problems frequently disrupted class in his Palm Beach County, FL, school. The boy, who was in the process of being tested for Asperger’s Syndrome, kicked other students, crawled under tables and ate crayons. After talking to the assistant principal about his behavior, Barton promised he would no longer disrupt the class.
Upon the boy’s return, his teacher, Wendy Portillo, instructed Barton to stand in front of the classroom. Then she invited students to tell Barton all of the things they didn’t like about him.
The teacher joined in, saying, “I hate you right now. I don’t like you today.”
Then, in a vote proposed by Portillo, the class voted 14-2 to make Barton leave. The boy spent the rest of that day in the nurse’s office. His parents reported that Alex lost his appetite and ability to sleep alone, and that he began repeatedly telling himself “I’m not special.”
In Fulton, MS, teenager Constance McMillen fought to attend her high school’s prom with her girlfriend. The school, however, prohibited same-sex couples at school functions. She had hoped to wear a tux to the prom, which was also against school rules.
McMillen contacted the ACLU about the situation, which resulted in a judge ruling in her favor. Rather than comply, the school canceled the prom.
The school then promoted a prom sponsored by private citizens. McMillen, her girlfriend and several other “different” students were sent to a separate prom, which they realized upon their arrival when they were the only ones attending.
Hurt when she discovered the trick, and after facing significant bullying from other classmates, McMillen ended up transferring to a new school.
What’s your reaction to these punishments? Did these teachers and schools handle things appropriately? Have you ever witnessed or heard about any controversial student punishments? Join the discussion on the EducationWorld Community.