When Ethics Alarms Don’t Work, Haven’t Been Installed, And Are Not Required In A Rotting Public School System, You Get This…

Yes, your eyes don’t deceive you and the photo isn’t doctored. That’s a teacher in one of the elementary schools at the North Penn School District taping a mask to the face of a student. Some quick-fingered fellow student captured the moment and posted it on social media—give THAT student a civic contribution award.

Here’s the self-damning statement about the incident from the North Penn School District:

An image taken in one of our classrooms last week and circulating on social media does not represent the universal values that the North Penn School District strives to instill in both our students and staff. After an immediate investigation, it was determined that while the incident was isolated and no malice was intended, the actions of the teacher were entirely inappropriate and unacceptable, no matter the context.

We understand that the act of taping a mask to a student’s face is concerning to many and apologize that it occurred. The matter is serious and it is being addressed with the employee. However, all personnel and student matters are confidential and no further information can be provided.

It’s concerning to “many”? Who isn’t it concerning to, devotees of the Marquis de Sade? It should be concerning to “many” that the school district can’t author a better statement than that. Why are student values mentioned here? This was 100% an act of child abuse by a teacher. How did the investigation determine that the incident was “isolated”? My guess is that it only means that may have been the first instance of taping a mask to a kid’s face; I’d bet my kidneys that a teacher who would do that engages in other forms of cruelty to students, and I think it’s extremely likely that a school that hired one child-abusing teacher hired others.

And don’t tell us the matter is “being addressed” with the teacher: has she been fired or not? Is the woman going to be allowed in a classroom again? The community has a right to know.

This episode has already supplied at least two Ethics Dunces (the teacher and whoever wrote that statement) and an Unethical Quote of the Week; now here’s an Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day:

What is the most ethical response for a parent whose child is treated like that by a school’s teacher?

20 thoughts on “When Ethics Alarms Don’t Work, Haven’t Been Installed, And Are Not Required In A Rotting Public School System, You Get This…

  1. If the Child’s parents are a painting contractor firm or own an automotive paint shop, then after the teacher is fired, hire her as an employee, with a 40+ hour a week job doing “masking off floors and doors, or windshields and chrome bumpers.”

  2. Hehe, so I guess you’re not an advocate of the Irish Christian Brother approach to students, which frequently involved a lot more than taping. I dodged this one, but one of the brothers flogged a student 40 times with a belt for being separated fom his math book. Ouch!

  3. It’s amazing to me in this day and age that a teacher thinks that a piece of tape is going to prevent the student from taking their mask off if they don’t want it on, if that was the reason the tape was being applied.

    I can think of a couple of reasons where the tape being applied could have been at the request of the student; 1. the mask kept falling off and the student asked for help 2. the mask didn’t fit well around the cheeks, the student was uncomfortable and asked for help to fix it. I guess those are probably not why the tape was applied in this case since the school administration said…

    “After an immediate investigation, it was determined that while the incident was isolated and no malice was intended, the actions of the teacher were entirely inappropriate and unacceptable, no matter the context.”

    Question: If the student is asking for help and agrees to the mask being taped on, is that context still inappropriate and unacceptable?

    Jack asked, “What is the most ethical response for a parent whose child is treated like that by a school’s teacher?”

    First the ethical response of the parent should be to not jump to conclusions and ask both the student and the teacher, “Why?”. The answer to that questions determines the next ethical step.

    I don’t know all the facts in this so I’m not going to jump to a conclusion based only on a photo.

    The statement from the school district was terrible.

    On a side note; does anyone remember a teacher from their history in elementary school many years ago putting a piece of tape over the mouth of a student and making them stand with their face stuck in a corner for five or ten minutes because they said something they shouldn’t have or showed disrespect for the teacher? How times have changed!!!

    • I remember one of my teachers picking up a chair, throwing it into a wall and screaming at the top of her lungs at a student. The screaming seemed warranted, though, as that particular student had just picked up a pair of scissors, reached over to the student next to her, and chopped off her ponytail. There was a disagreement over who was hogging a particular color of glitter and things got ugly all around. Fun times.

  4. Fire & sue her. There is no excuse, and in this unnatural “Covid Crisis” this BS must be stopped before this generation is permanently damaged.

  5. Assuming the teacher did this by force against the child’s will, does taping a mask to a student’s face qualify as battery? If so, the ethical response probably includes filing charges with the police. Filing a lawsuit against the school and the teacher also seems like the ethical response, in order to ensure that this doesn’t happen to any other students.

    Next, pull the student out of the school and either put them in private school or homeschool them. Make sure the child understands that what happened wasn’t their fault and that the actions of the teacher were wrong.

    If the student asked the teacher to tape the mask to their face, then that is a different story. The teacher needs to be counseled as to why obstructing the breathing of children is wrong, even if they ask you to. I don’t know that any extreme actions need to be taken, but a discussion should be had about not being an idiot.

    The entire school district obviously needs additional guidance since they apparently employ people who do not know how to tell what actions regarding masks are appropriate and which are not.

    • I simply can’t imagine a child asking a teacher to tape some stupid mask to his face. I suspect the student wasn’t complying with the mask mandate and the teacher taught a lesson about compliance and obedience to authority.


      • johnburger2013 wrote, “I suspect the student wasn’t complying with the mask mandate and the teacher taught a lesson about compliance and obedience to authority.”

        Kinda like my example above from many years ago where the teacher taped students mouths and made them stand in a corner?

        • Not on point, Steve. Well . . . maybe it is because it is about punishment and retribution. A teacher tapes my son’s mouth shut and he has absolutely authority to rip the teacher’s head off.


          • Haha, when I was at Scout camp sometimes the counselors used physical force on the Scouts. There was one guy, who shall remain nameless, who would crush Scouts’ upper arms with his finger and thumb, and tell them he had broken arms before in that fashion. Parents said not a word then. My much younger cousin (actually my cousin’s son) was told last summer that if any of the Scout counselrs did anything like that, he had his parents’ authority to kick that counselor in the nuts.

      • Really? I can easily imagine it. It would have gone something like this….

        Teacher: NP, what are you doing? Stop playing with the tape dispenser and go sit down!

        NP: But my mask won’t stay on and I’m sick of fixing it! Just let me finish!

        Teacher: That scotch tape is never going to stick to your skin. Stop wasting tape and sit down!

        10 min, much argument, and a lot of wasted tape later…

        NP: Why won’t you just let me use your good tape?

        Teacher: Oh, alright! But I’m going to do it, you already wasted enough!

        Kids are weird and sometimes they do weird stuff. The teacher in this scenario still ought to know better.

  6. I have a completely different take on this. Among the “Aaaaaaah! We’re all gonna die!” demographic, which is substantial in number and belief, this teacher’s using a little piece of tape to make the student’s mask “more effective” is doubtless considered wonderful to downright heroic. I wouldn’t be surprised if various elementary school districts have issued advisories encouraging taping masks, so they fit better on smaller faces. They may even hand out art tape which is less adhesive and wouldn’t be at all painful to remove. Is this overkill and bizarre? Of course, it is. More so than any of the countless other over reactions that have been visited upon us by our betters who believe in science? No.
    This teacher will face absolutely no adverse consequences. She’ll probably get a pat on the back from her supervisor. She’s thinking of the children!

  7. And the teacher is wearing a cloth mask which, according to the CDC web site, states: “During a pandemic, cloth masks may be the only option available; however, they should be used as a last resort when medical masks and respirators are not available.”

  8. I can’t speak for other states or locales, but there’s a quiet revolution against public schooling going on. Texas has seen a massive withdrawal from public school participation.

    There are extremely few silver linings of the Covid overreaction (which itself is worthy of an entire post hypothesizing that the entire reaction was a opportunistic plan to undo a sitting President regardless of misery the reaction created). One of them is that parents got to see the abject failure, first hand, of their children’s schooling. While there are still good and eager teachers out doing the best they can, we got to witness wide spread apathy by teachers, who seemed to seek any opportunity to stay home, do minimal work, and receive paychecks wildly fatter than most of the parents of the children they taught who had to go to work in person. We got to see a lack of rigor in academics – one of the reasons why we are falling dangerously behind competitor nations in our children’s education. We got to see gross indoctrination of values families did not want their children to be force fed. In many instances we got to witness outright abuses that received local punishment but no systemic reform.

    As for the quiet revolution against Texas public schooling – which of all centralized government operations, it is hard to find another program that, on a dollars to outcomes analysis has failed harder than public schooling. The 100+ year experiment seems to be mostly a failure (though this isn’t entirely the school’s fault as much of a child’s rigorous pursuit of academics must also come from active and interested parents).

    Will public school administrators realize their error and fix their ways? I don’t think so. Because while parents that can (and I feel for those who cannot) are bailing off the sinking ship, the government funding will not decrease commensurately. So frankly, there will be just as much money, with less need for as many teachers – meaning there can be more useless administrators receiving bigger paychecks as a reward for their failure.

    It’s a revolution, but the targets of the revolution may not care.

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