BARBERTON, Ohio — An Ohio high school is defending its decision to pepper spray a group of 11th grade students. It says it was a lesson in law enforcement and consequences.
The incident happened last week at Barberton High School in Barberton, about 40 miles south of Cleveland.
As part of a class in law and public safety, the instructor made the students line up against a wall and spritzed them one by one with a burst of pepper spray.
The school says the students volunteered for the activity — and their parents OK’d it.
“Students were required to have parental permission and consent in order to participate in the voluntary exercise,” said Barberton City School’s superintendent Patricia Cleary.
Still, the video is raising all sorts of eye brows online.
Student Madison Garland told CNN affiliate WJW the video seemed funny at first, but ultimately made for uncomfortable viewing.
“As it went on and people kept screaming,” she said. “I’m like, ‘That’s not that funny…it’s uncalled for.'”
The two-and-a-half minute video shows one girl screaming “It feels like a volcano in my eyes!” Others covered their eyes as they doubled over in pain.
“This teacher should me fired for his job #firethisteacher,” Jose Benitez posted in the comments section of the video posted online.
Cleary stands behind the voluntary activity.
The class instructor is a former police chief, she said. A school resource officer was also present. And the video was shot by a parent who had consented to the assignment.
In the permission slip, the instructor said the project was “part of our defensive tactics training that we have covered this year.”
“I will introduce the use and effects of law enforcement OC “Pepper Spray” to the students. … It will cause irritation and a burning sensation to the eyes and nasal area for approximately 30 minutes to 1 hour.
This is a controlled and safe experience for the students and is completely voluntary.”