Blood experiment costs Harnett teacher her job
Posted October 28, 2013
Spring Lake, N.C. — A former Harnett County teacher said Monday that she just wanted her students to get a good, hands-on lesson. School district officials said the activity was a little too hands-on, resulting in the teacher's firing.
Miyoshi McMillan wanted her Overhills High School honors biology students to conduct an experiment on blood typing last Thursday, and she used a lab kit that included synthetic blood and seven lancets.
"Some students were, like, 'Oh, this is cool. I want to know my blood type.'" McMillan said.
She allowed students to use the lancing needles to prick their own fingers. After using the needles, the students wiped them with alcohol swabs so the next class could use them.
Students who declined the blood test were given an alternate assignment, but one concerned student left class to call her parents, who then alerted assistant principals.
"They were, like, 'Stop the lab! Stop the lab!'" McMillan said.
Harnett County Schools spokeswoman Patricia Harmon-Lewis said every teacher in the district is instructed about the dangers of blood-borne pathogens.
"We don't want students to be, first of all, sharing a needle, and second, to have any type of human blood in the classroom," Harmon-Lewis said.
Overhills High Principal Kylon Middleton called the situation "a nightmare," McMillan said, and the first-year teacher was fired by the end of the day.
McMillan said she thinks school officials overreacted.
"From my understanding, I thought, 'Well, it’s OK to use (a lancet). It’s there,'" she said. "If it was not OK to use, then I think it should have been taken out during the summer.
"I wanted to make sure that what I had within me, that I shared my knowledge to those kids," she said.
Harnett County health director John Rouse said the lancets are to be used only one time, and wiping them with alcohol isn't sufficient to eliminate exposure to pathogens.
Overhills High sent letters home with every student in the biology classes, suggesting that parents take their children to a doctor within 24 hours to have their blood analyzed. No health issues had been reported as of Monday.
"You’re not supposed to do that in the lab," Harmon-Lewis said. "That’s why we have synthetic slides."
McMillan is a lateral-entry teacher, meaning she has expertise in the field of biology but was still working on obtaining a North Carolina teacher's license. She said she is now moving on from teaching and is taking classes to earn a doctoral degree.
"It's OK. The best is yet to come for me," she said.