Day Care Teacher Fired for Leaving Sleeping Kids Alone Did the Right Thing (VIDEO)

Rant 266

Michelle HammackThere's almost no reason a day care teacher should ever leave a group of children unattended, even for a minute. Almost. Putting out a fire that's burning nearby in an attempt to save their lives, however, would be one obvious reason to do so ... or so one would think. When a Florida day care teacher did just that, though, she got fired.

Michelle Hammack was a teacher at Little Temples Childcare facility in Arlington, Florida. According to WTEV, last week the kids in her classroom were napping when she smelled smoke. She peeked her head around a corner into an adjacent room and saw burning chicken nuggets in the oven. So she did what we'd hope anyone who saw a fire, especially a fire near sleeping children, would do -- she ran to put it out.

When she opened the oven to try to do so, the fire alarm went off, so she says she ran back to her classroom, woke up the kids, and took them all outside. She went back inside to make sure there were no other children there and put out the fire in the oven. Shortly thereafter firefighters arrived.

Phew. You'd think she might deserve a thank-you, right? That's not what she got. Instead she got fired. The day care's owner, Olga Rozhaov, says she shouldn't have left the children no matter what. She told the station:

I fired her only because she left her room. Even though children are sleeping, the teachers are supposed to be there.

I would absolutely say the risk of leaving sleeping children unattended for a few minutes is trumped by a fire. Should she have evacuated the children first? Maybe, but then the fire could have grown. She acted on instinct, and I'd say her instincts were pretty good.

When I saw the headline, I thought there would be more to the story, but it seems pretty cut and dry. I don't understand the owner's rationale at all, but she's not backing down.

It's not acceptable, and if anybody else does the same thing, I will fire again. I will fire them. No question.

Ridiculous. If you think so too, you can sign a petition at Care2 "to right the wrong that was done to Michelle Hammack." It doesn't say how the wrong should be righted, but if it's getting her job back, I'm not sure I would want it with a boss like that.

Do you think this teacher was wrong for leaving her classroom like this?


Image via WTEV

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nonmember avatar Lizzie Borden

Burning CHILDREN NUGGETS? So they're cannibalizing children? Nice typo, try proof reading.

Caera Caera

"She peeked her ahead around a corner into an adjacent room, and saw burning children nuggets in the oven."

CHILDREN nuggets??

LOLOLOL - sounds like this place has bigger problems, or maybe another Cafe writer needs a proofreader.


I am going to assume you meant  chicken not children.

fleur... fleurdelys3110

Children nuggets?? Hahahah proof reading would come in handy

keelh... keelhaulrose

The teacher did the right thing, and I doubt there are many daycare workers who would rather be fired for doing something than have their job with injured children (or worse) because of their inaction.

However I worked in daycare, and they are insanely strict about not leaving kids under any circumstances. Not saying it's right, but I could have been fired for leaning out the door to give a parent something they forgot. If the state inspectors catch a room full of unsupervised children, even napping ones, the center can lose their license.

nonmember avatar Lena

Why is there a daycare with multiple kids and only one teacher? How old were the kids when she got them outside? If she left a couple of two year olds outside, yes that would be a problem. Sounds like she was fired because taking those kids outside highlighted the fact the daycare's one-teacher-on-duty position is a huge liability.

wamom223 wamom223

Yes the children nuggets was very distracting.  It sounds to me like they were under staffed and I would hold the owner responsible.  Who burned the nuggets in the first place and why weren't they around to help when they caught on fire?  There have to be more details to this story we don't know. 

nonmember avatar momo

totally loved the burning children nuggets comment. its been a long day and that was the best reason to laugh so far today.

Music... MusicMom823

Lena, have you seen how many teachers are alone in a classroom with 25-30 children???  Have you walked the halls of your local public school building recently?  When my choir comes to class, I have 70 fifth graders plus me.  Why would you think only one teacher in a class is that unusual?  I understand this was a daycare, but it really isn't unusual for it to be only one teacher in a classroom.

nonmember avatar Kelli

Lena- usually during nap time your ratios double so being alone in a classroom during nap time with kids is normal. Usually that is when teachers take their breaks.

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