COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — A high school teacher lost her job after a teenager went through her cellphone between classes, found a nude picture of her and shared it on social media.
No students have been disciplined, pending a police investigation.
Union County School District Superintendent David Eubanks, who forced Leigh Anne Arthur to resign or be fired, said Thursday that it’s her fault for leaving students unattended during a four-minute break between classes.
“She has tried to make this out as though it was strictly related to the photos,” Eubanks told The Associated Press. “I could care less what her pictures are on the cellphone.”
More than 8,000 people signed a petition by Thursday afternoon urging that the teacher get her job back. Nearly 3,000 commented as well, many expressing shock that the victim is being blamed.
Arthur, 33, told police on Feb. 18 that while she stepped out of her classroom, a 16-year-old boy took her unlocked smartphone from her desk, opened the photos application and found a nude selfie she had taken for her husband as a Valentine’s present.
Then, using his own phone, the boy took a picture of the image and shared it. Soon, multiple students were sharing it on social media, and someone left copies, along with a harassing note, in Arthur’s mailbox.
State police have examined this evidence along with the student’s cellphone, State Law Enforcement Division spokesman Thom Berry said Thursday.
School officials are unsure how many people saw the image. None of the students involved have been suspended or expelled, although criminal charges are likely, Eubanks told The Associated Press Thursday in a phone interview.
“The students are probably going to be charged by law enforcement,” Eubanks said. “When you start transmitting pictures of nude people, on cellphones, it’s probably against the law.”
Arthur told local media that it’s part of her job to monitor the hallway between classes. But Eubanks said some students said she was in an adjoining room at the time, and that’s why her director told her to resign or be fired for failing to supervise her class.
Arthur, a 13-year veteran, quit her job teaching mechanical and electrical engineering and computer programming at the school’s vocational center. She did not immediately return messages left Thursday by the AP.
In a local television interview, she said she forgives the student, but believes he should be held responsible.
“We all make stupid decisions when we’re 16,” Arthur told WYFF-TV. Still, “he had the ultimate decision to take pictures of my pictures and he had the ultimate decision to send them out.”