Teacher Who Made Students Wear Dog Cones May Lose Job

A Pasco County science teacher could lose her job over an incident last month involving several students and one of those plastic dog "cone" collars.

Pasco Superintendent Heather Fiorentino is recommending teacher Laurie Bailey-Cutkomp be fired, saying she violated school policy and ethics codes when she made some of her students wear the dog cone.

Some of her students say it was all a joke in good fun, but plenty of parents see it otherwise.

Freshman Tanisha Medina, who wore the so-called "cone of shame,” said it was funny.

"Since we're always doing bad stuff, she thought it'd be funny, a real, ‘cone of shame’ and put it on us," said Medina, who added Bailey-Cutkomp put the cone around her neck as a joke.

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"She asked me before, is it fine?," Medina said. "I was like, sure. She didn't tie it. She didn't connect it."

Medina said her teacher got the idea from the movie, "Up,” which they were watching in class.

"Her No. 1 rule is don't eat, don't drink water, don't chew gum," said Medina. "And I'm always chewing gum, I'm always drinking water, I'm always eating, but she kind of laid off on that because she's a cool teacher."

"And we're joking around having fun with it, like the movie, because it was funny," said Medina, who posted the picture to her Facebook page.

Since we're always doing bad stuff, she thought it'd be funny a real, ‘cone of shame’ and put it on us

— Freshman Tanisha Medina

She said it wasn't until another student posted it to his page that the trouble started.

"Took it off my Facebook, and put it on his Facebook and saved it off my page, which is wrong," she said. "And put it on his page, with the caption as this is how teachers punish kids at Zephyrhills High School."

You can imagine the firestorm that ignited.

Fiorentino sent Bailey-Cutkomp a letter recommending she be fired for "inappropriate interactions with students and extremely poor judgment."

Bailey-Cutkomp has apologized and said putting the cone collar on students was probably a bad decision.

Angela Nielsen, who has a young daughter, said she would have been startled if she'd heard her young daughter was wearing something like that.

"I probably would freak out," Nielsen said. "I really would because she's very sensitive, and I feel that that's very embarrassing and humiliating to a child."

"I'd want to go in and discuss it with the teacher, to see what went on and why," said parent Tina Avadikian.

The entire matter gets reviewed by the Pasco school board Tuesday.

We're told Bailey-Cutkomp will appeal. For now, she is on paid leave. She did not return our call.

Her students said they want to start a petition to keep Bailey-Cutkomp at their school.

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