N.C. teacher fired after allowing students to reuse needles for blood testing experiment

Katie LaPotin, Red Alert Politics, October 30, 2013

A North Carolina biology teacher is now out of a job after she allowed her students to share used needles to test their blood types.

Miyoshi McMillan, a teacher at Overhills High School in Spring Lake, was fired Oct. 24 after school officials learned that her students had pricked their fingers with lancing needles and left the needles on their lab trays so the students in the next class could use them.

McMillan’s students used a lab kit that included synthetic blood and seven lancets used to obtain drops of blood for testing, according to Patricia Harmon-Lewis, a spokeswoman for the Harnett County School District. The students had wiped down the needles with rubbing alcohol before placing them on the trays; however, that is not always a sufficient-enough way of killing blood-borne pathogens like hepatitis or HIV.

“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 told the local CBS affiliate.

Students who chose not to take part in the experiment were instead assigned a five-page paper. School officials got involved when a concerned student excused herself and called her parents, who then told the assistant principals about the lesson.

McMillan believes she was unfairly scapegoated for the incident by the school district, as she was subbing in the classroom and all the equipment needed for the experiment was already in the room. ”I believe it’s really been blown up and it’s been a character strike against me,” McMillian told the local ABCaffiliate, noting  that her “main concern is the safety of the children.”

“From my understanding, I thought, ‘Well, it’s OK to use (a lancet). It’s there,” she added to the local CBSaffiliate. ”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.”

McMillan had participated in a statewide program that allowed professionals to work while earning their full teaching certification, according to DigiTriad.com.

The school sent letters home to the parents of the students involved in the experiment informing them of the situation and encouraging them to get their blood tested.

“The administration called every parent of every child as soon as we realized it happened,” Harmon-Lewis said. “Afterwards they sent home a notice telling them to go to their primary care physician or urgent care in order to have baseline bloodwork drawn.”


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