A South Carolina teacher said the school she worked for wanted her to resign after a student reportedly swiped her cellphone and shared a naked photo she had on the device with classmates through text messages and social media.
While “mechatronics” teacher Leigh Anne Arthur patrolled the hallways at Union County High School on Feb. 19, an unnamed 16-year-old student went through her phone and found a semi-nude picture she had taken for her husband, she told reporters.
The student reportedly took a photo of Arthur’s picture with his own phone before sending it to others.
After the teen shared the picture with other students, school district bosses in Union County told the 13-year teaching veteran to quit her job or go through the dismissal process, Interim Superintendent David Eubanks told The State.
“I think we have a right to privacy, but when we take inappropriate information or pictures, we had best make sure it remains private,” Eubanks told the newspaper.
He told WSPA that the teacher’s actions may have contributed to the delinquency of a minor.
But Arthur argued that she should not be punished for her lack of foresight to delete the picture or lock her phone.
“He knows right and wrong. He had the ultimate decision to take pictures of my pictures and he had the ultimate decision to send them out,” she said to WYFF of the student, whom she ultimately forgave.
“He’s 16. He’s going to make stupid decisions. We all made stupid decisions at 16,” she told WSPA.
A student petition protesting what happened to the teacher that had amassed nearly 1,200 signatures by Wednesday called Arthur “the victim of a blatant attack of her privacy.
“Mrs. Arthur has not only shown tremendous dedication to her students, but also the mechatronics program itself, often reaching out to local businesses and colleges to get material that would not normally be available for class,” the petition said.
“The circumstances in which Mrs. Arthur was let go is unacceptable, and must be corrected,” it said.
The superintendent's office would not comment on the incident to INSIDE EDITION.
Arthur has filed a complaint with the Union Public Safety Department, which is investigating the incident.
State Police have custody of the student’s phone and will determine if anything is on the device, Public Safety Department Chief Sam White told INSIDE EDITION.
If he is found to have taken and shared the photos, the teen may face charges, White said.
It may take up to two weeks for the Public Safety Department to get the results back.