Classrooms are for students, not animals. This is the conclusion that Margaret Barthel, the head of the science department at Tampa, Florida’s Freedom High School, has finally come to after an appearance in court this week resulted in Barthel’s being punished for cruelty to the animals she kept in her classroom.
In Barthel’s classroom at Freedom High, several class “pets” were abused and neglected: Nine gerbils died after they were deprived of food and water for more than two weeks, finches died of exposure, and a ball python froze to death. As a result of the cruelty citations, Barthel has relinquished her (still-living) ball python to Hillsborough County Animal Services, paid a $1,000 fine, donated $500 to animal services, and committed to keeping animals out of her classroom permanently.
We’re hoping that in light of this incident, Freedom High School Principal Chris Farkas will heed our calls and prohibit the use of animals in all the school’s classrooms. Please use this form to let him know that students can and do learn about responsibility, animal behavior, and hands-on science without keeping animals on display in classrooms.
Written by Liz Graffeo