Florida teacher suspended for making students wear 'cone of shame'

MeMe - Raises Her Hand (-_-) (Mommy Of A Toddler And Teen) - posted on 05/10/2012 ( 16 moms have responded )




A Florida high school teacher was suspended for allegedly making her students wear a wide-brimmed, plastic dog collar as a form of discipline, the Tampa Bay Times reported.

In a stern letter sent to Zephyrhills High School science teacher Laurie Bailey-Cutkomp, Superintendent Heather Fiorentino wrote that she would recommend Bailey-Cutkomp be fired.

"I am very concerned that you used this collar to punish and embarrass students in front of their peers," Fiorentino wrote.

Bailey-Cutkomp allegedly gave students the option of wearing the collar or sitting at the tardy table if they arrived late to class. Eight students ended up wearing the collar, the superintendent said.

Fiorentino described the cone as a “collar used to prevent animals who have had surgery from licking their wounds” and said the collar was inspired by the popular Pixar movie, “Up,” in which a pudgy golden retriever named Dug is forced to wear a “cone of shame.”

Bailey-Cutkomp had shown the movie to her class on the days before and after spring break, Fiorentino wrote. Bailey-Cutkomp had told administrators she did so because attendance is typically low on those days and she did not want her students to fall behind.

Dug, a golden retriever mix from the Pixar movie, "Up," was forced by other dogs to wear a dog collar, which he called "the cone of shame."

When students expressed interest about the cone of shame after seeing the movie, Bailey-Cutkomp, who has a veterinary background, explained that its proper name is an Elizabethan collar. (The name is a nod to Elizabethan times, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I of England, when the monarch and her subjects wore fashionable “ruffs,” or puffy, lacy collars around their necks.)

Administrators found out about the cone of shame after students posted photos of each other wearing the dog collar to Facebook.

“When asked how you selected students to wear the collar,” Fiorentino wrote in her letter, “you explained that you initially used it to redirect student behavior.”

Bailey-Cutkomp did not immediately reply to a message requesting comment sent to her work e-mail.

Bailey-Cutkomp’s use of the dog cone is a variation of the dunce cap, which was a large piece of paper fashioned into a cone and placed on a child’s head. Children who had greater difficulty learning or paying attention were most often deemed the dunces.

Typically, the child was then made to stand in the corner of the classroom as a form of humiliation.

The dunce cap went out of fashion in the 20th century, according to wisegeek.com, and modern educators find there are few, if any, benefits to public humiliation.


OK, with all of our public humiliation threads, as of late, this one takes the cake. I would be absolutely enraged if this ever happened in my child's class. In no way, shape or fashion do I give the right to a teacher or anyone else for that matter, to publicly humiliate my child. Especially intentional humiliation. One that is thought out and meant to degrade them and make a spectacle of them.

When my daughter was in Kindergarten, the teachers wanted to put a 3 way divider around her. Since she was having so much difficulty staying in her seat, speaking out of turn and playing with everything in her desk (thank ADHD). My answer was they must be seriously demented to think I would agree to out-casting my daughter and making a fool of her, intentionally.

So, yes, IMO, if my child's school ever did such a thing as in this article, there would be some serious repercussions for them to deal with.



Elfrieda - posted on 05/11/2012




Oh come on. They were in high school! It's a funny way to punish people for being late (and calling it "the cone of shame" after UP is very amusing), and they got a choice whether to wear it or to sit at a special table. I think it was probably funny for everyone including the one wearing it, but still a consequence. Certainly it's a good reminder for the kids. "Yes, I'd love to go uptown to get pizza for lunch, but I have science class right after so we'll have to hurry back. I don't want The Cone."

Maybe there's all this negativity because we've all got young kids, and of course it would be inappropriate for primary school kids. But don't you remember high school? The best teachers were the ones who came up with stuff like this. I remember we had to recite some poem in German while standing on one leg if we were late to German class, and one of my other teachers made us spend some time sitting on the floor if we were late. High schoolers need to learn to budget their time and get to class, that's part of what they're learning.

Jodi - posted on 05/12/2012




From the sounds of things, the kids thought it was funny. Plus, they had the choice to sit at the tardy table OR wear the cone, couldn't be too bad if they picked the cone! Not to mention, they were posting the pictures to Facebook. If it's sooooo embarassing and humiliating, they wouldn't be putting them up on facebook! If her rule was, "You come to class late, you wear the cone of shame, no other options!" and the kids didn't sound to find it rather amusing, yes, I'd have a problem with it, but it doesn't sound like that's the case.

Firebird - posted on 05/14/2012




"Bailey-Cutkomp allegedly gave students the option of wearing the collar or sitting at the tardy table if they arrived late to class"

The keyword here is OPTION. She didn't 'make' anyone wear the stupid thing. My french teacher in high school gave male students the OPTION of sitting detention at lunch or spending the lunch hour wearing a pink frilly dress from the drama room. Most of them CHOSE the dress. It was funny as all hell too! lol

Mrs. - posted on 05/12/2012




They are high school kids. Sounds like they thought it was funny and the teacher rolled with it. I personally wouldn't have a problem with it. If my kid came home and told me it was happening - I'd probably laugh and tell them to get a picture for me.

MeMe - Raises Her Hand (-_-) (Mommy Of A Toddler And Teen) - posted on 05/11/2012




Ah shit! I even posted it and read it several times but do you think I noticed the "High School teacher" part?

Oh, FFS, yeah, sorry, I have no issue with this now. LOL

Thanks Elfrieda, for pointing that out! ;)

Yes, I agree. They need to learn to budget their time and get to class. When I was in High School and if we were late, the door was locked and we did not get to attend class. Then an automated phone call was made home (in hope the parents got it and not the kids), as well as a quarterly letter, showing all missed classes. Honestly, if I was late, I would wear the cone! lol


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Beth - posted on 05/12/2012




I don't think, sadly, that this public humiliation style of discipline is anything new, I think it's cropping up in the news lately because ultimately 1) most of today's parents/teachers don't agree with it and would never use it as a tactic and 2) those who do use it know somewhere deep down inside that it's not right, and get defensive about it. I've not been too vocal on the subject, but after hearing this I just have to put out there that I think public humiliation as punishment (for ANY wrongdoing) is a lazy and immature way to punish a child. It does nothing for the situation except to drive a permanent wedge between you and the child. Any Psych 101 book will tell you that. Let's get a little more civil and adult with our punishments. And if there's that kid you "just can't get through to", SURPRISE! They need more of your (positive) focus and attention!

[deleted account]

This has been a fun topic at work since I AM a high school teacher! Hell, even my principal mentioned it as a staff meeting this week!

While the measure was extreme, embarrassing, and IMO, unacceptable as a form of punishment-honestly, what trauma will the frequently tardy kids suffer as permanant damage?

The kids VOLUNTARILY subjected themselves to wearing the "Cone of Shame".

Now their feelings were butt hurt-after the fact.

Bad decision on the teacher as well. I do not allow tardy kids into my classroom. They are locked out (school policy) and report to a "tardy room".

Here is why: every single *%$@ time the classroom door opens, it is a distraction to the educational process, lesson, and learning atmosphere. It's only natural to turn around and see WHO is coming in late. Also, high school kids NEED to learn responsibility, and I am sorry to offend but we are raising a generation of kids who have never been taught PERSONAL responsibility. (General statement here) That means using your passing time in between classes wisely-using the restroom, getting a drink, visiting w/friends, etc. Do not wait until AFTER the class bell to say, "Oh I didn't have TIME to use the restroom." Therefore, after the bell I lock the door. After being sent to the tardy room so many times, students start to lose credit for their class. Again, personal responsibility. Not in class? You don't learn. You lose credit.

So the teacher used public humilation as a tool to teach personal responsibility. She just went about it the wrong way. I'd like to hear from someone who feels it's perfectly acceptable to waltz into class tardy day after day after day after day, interrupting the lesson and learning atmosphere.

Now are there times when kids come tardy with a legit reason? Absolutely! They have a PASS from the nurse, the guidance counselor, another teacher. But tardy from hanging out in the hallways, sucking face with the b/f or g/f of the week, not being responsible to get to class on time? Sorry- I have to side with the teacher's perspective, just NOT the manner in which she handed out the consequence.

Medic - posted on 05/11/2012




I think this is freaking funny. We had a french teacher who would make us wear this stupid clock on a chain if we were late to class. My science teacher would make us do handstand pushups one for every min we were late. I had another teacher that made you sit on the kinder nap mat if we were late. These are damn near adults. Come on now.

Natalie - posted on 05/11/2012




I can understand the problem when the child is grade 6 or below, and they're still getting accustomed to things. But by the time they're in high school, they know what they are and arent' supposed to do. At that point, I think the "cone of shame" is a fabulous idea. We have a country of self-centered jerks at this point because they were never held accountable for their behavior when they were young adults.

Tracey - posted on 05/11/2012




Most of the non special needs related behaviour problems at my school are attention seeking. Putting a visible sign on a child for this reason would possibly increase the unwanted behaviour as it gives the child more attention, hey look at me I'm so disruptive I got a collar / hat etc to prove it. We find the time out chair in a corner of the room works well as it takes all attention away from the child and the rest of the class ignores them.

Kelina - posted on 05/10/2012




I think it's dumb and not something I'd approve of however I really think I'd need to know what the kids who were wearing thought of it as well as their other classmates before I passed judgement. This article says that the students chose it over sitting at a table on their own and that 8 students had to wear it. There's a chance that it was thought cool to flaunt authority enough to have to wear it. There's also a chance it was extremely effective. I don't know her students. I don't know the teacher. How can I pass judgement when there are so many factors involved?

MeMe - Raises Her Hand (-_-) (Mommy Of A Toddler And Teen) - posted on 05/10/2012




I agree Katherine. This type of humiliation PISSES me right OFF! And you know, you know, she is still getting paid! **MeMe shakes her head**

Katherine - posted on 05/10/2012




WHY?????? Why are so many people turning to public humiliation? I think it's so crude. This article makes me even angrier and she should get FIRED, not suspended.

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