Leigh Ann Arthur, a teacher in Union County, South Carolina, resigned from her position last Friday after the school board threatened to fire her over nude pictures a student found and distributed after stealing her cellphone.
The student took the phone from Arthur's desk at Union County High School on Feb. 19 while she was on hallway patrol, The State reports, and proceeded to send the photos he found to others and posted them online.
When school authorities found out about the photos, they accused her of potentially contributing to student delinquency and said she should expected to be dismissed. David Eubanks, the interim superintendent of Union County schools, told The State the district's actions against Arthur were justified:
“Students had access to very inappropriate pictures of a teacher,” he said of the Feb. 19 incident.
Eubanks said he was unsure whether the student who took Arthur’s phone would face any discipline.
“I think we have a right to privacy, but when we take inappropriate information or pictures, we had best make sure it remains private,” he said.
But parents and other students are calling for her to be re-instated to her position as a mechatronics teacher with an online petition that now has nearly 8,000 signatures. The petition reads:
Leigh Anne Arthur is the victim of a blatant attack of her privacy. Personal photographs were illegally obtained by a student and were sent to other students in the school(Union County High). After being escorted off of school property, we (the students) are left to believe that she has been forced to, or given little choice but to resign. 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 materials that would not normally be available for the class.
With that being said, the student(s) responsible have not received any sort of punishment. The circumstances in which Mrs.Arthur was let go is unacceptable, and must be corrected. We strongly urge you to sign and share this petition.
“The student who actually took my phone and took pictures turned around and told me your day of reckoning is coming,” Arthur told WSPA News. “The whole premise of my privacy being invaded is being ignored and that’s what’s wrong." She plans to press charges against the student, according to WSPA.
Arthur told WYFF 4 that she found printed copies of the photos in her mailbox on Wednesday morning and contacted the local Sheriff, who is now investigating. She also filed a complaint to the Union Public Safety Department.