Laurie Bailey-Cutkomp, a 47-year-old Zephyrhills High School science teacher in Zephyrhills, Fla., is under fire after photos of her students wearing dog collars as punishment for bad behavior surfaced on Facebook, WTSP-TV reports.
Dubbed the "cone of shame" by the teacher, the photos are causing equal amounts of outrage and laughter from parents and students in the district. Bailey-Cutkomp reportedly used the cone for disciplinary infractions like drinking soda in class.
"I was disgusted, very disgusted," one parent told the station. "...That's a human, not an animal. You're not spaying or neutering that person."
Others, including student Tanisha Medina, thought it was a harmless joke.
"She just did it as a joke and said she was gonna punish us by doing it," Medina told WTSP. "But she asked us first and we were all laughing and joking around."
Pasco County Schools Superintendent Heather Fiorentino has suggested Bailey-Cutkomp should be fired for violating the state's ethics codes -- a decision some teachers are protesting.
"Whatever mistake Ms. Bailey-Cutkomp made, it was a mistake that I doubt she will make again," ninth-grade teacher James Washington wrote in a letter to the school board, according to the Tampa Bay Times. "Furthermore, what I have witnessed at ZHS certainly makes me believe that she has much to offer the students."
According to the Times, Bailey-Cutkomp later told investigators that it was "probably" a bad idea to discipline students with the collar.
The teacher is on unpaid suspension following Fiorentino's recommendation but, according to MSNBC, she has requested a special hearing and wants to return to the school.
Nevertheless, Fiorentino maintains that the teacher should be fired, saying in her letter to Bailey-Cutkomp that her actions showed "extremely poor judgement," according to WTSP-TV.
"I am stunned that you would put dog collars on students for any reason," Fiorentino wrote.
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