Topless teacher scandal is absurd

When a middle-school math teacher’s old topless selfie fell into the hands of a student, she was summarily fired (“That teacher’s topless selfie,” Los Angeles Times, Apr. 7).  At first, I thought the news was an April Fool’s Day joke. But it isn’t.

Her lawyer intends to sue the Long Island, N.Y. school district for $3 million, arguing that the photo was intended solely for viewing by her boyfriend and was not inherently prurient.  He is absolutely right. I hope that she gets her job back and that the district issues a formal apology.  Apparently, female teachers are still subjected to a different standard than are male teachers.

I wonder how many teachers, both female and male, don’t have something in their personal lives that could prove embarrassing?  I’m not talking now about criminal behavior.  I’m referring to an indiscretion.  You can be sure if it involves sex in any way, it will be an issue for teachers wishing to retain their jobs. Teachers have lives outside of school.  Unless their behavior can be shown to be directly inimical to their ability to teach, it’s none of a district’s business.

(To post a comment, click on the title of this blog.)

6 Replies to “Topless teacher scandal is absurd”

  1. Agree that the discharge is absurd — if the facts are as described. A Buzzfeed article re Miranda gives the impression that Miranda is enjoying the conflict. No info in either the LA Times or Buzzfeed article re how students got ahold of the topless picture. And, we do not have the school district’s side of the story — suppose Miranda in some way acquiesced in or encouraged the circulation of the selfie beyond just her boyfriend? Still not the school system’s business — but, if it was reasonably foreseeable to Miranda that the selfie would end up being seen by her students, that would make her discharge a much closer question. And, there’s always the chance that Miranda was discharged for lying to school officials re the selfie rather than for the selfie itself.

    Wish that mainstream media would — as a general practice — require that someone in Miranda’s position sign a written waiver of all privacy protections vis-à-vis the school system employer as a condition of the media reporting on the complainant’s complaint + that the MSM would then demand that the school system employer tell the MSM the employer’s side of the story rather than refusing to comment re specifics due to the school system’s obligation to maintain confidentiality re employee personnel issues. If the complaining employee refused to sign the confidentiality waiver, the news organization should either decline to report on the complaint or should mention the complainant’s refusal to waive confidentiality in the lead paragraph — so the reader knows the news organization is telling only the complainant’s side of the story and that the complainant is not willing to let the employer tell its side of the story to the news organization. Likewise, if the complainant waives confidentiality and the school system nevertheless refuses to tell its side of the story (hiding behind the protect-employee-confidentiality rule), the news organization should spell that out near the start of the article.

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  2. Labor Lawyer: There was a time when teachers could be fired for not being a “model” for their students. They essentially had no private life, as a result. Generally, teachers have far more freedom when they teach in large city districts, rather than in small districts. Miranda taught in a small suburban school district on Long Island. That’s why I was surprised she would find herself in jeopardy. Nothing I’ve read so far indicates how the student came into possession of the photo.

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  3. While I totally agree the teacher should not have lost her job because her old bare-breasted photo came to light, I have to ask, has she been sleeping under a rock? To put a single pic of any subject with even the hint of something intended to be private into the web world, no matter where, is now insane. She’s a teacher of teens and as such is surrounded by technology. She should be savvier than many people. She was dumb.

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  4. dkhatt: There’s no question that her action was risky in today’s high-tech world, but what she posted was by no means prurient. Moreover, the decision by the school district to fire her shows how out of touch it is. Teens today are far more sophisticated than in decades past. They are not sheltered from reality, having seen movies and images that are far more revealing than a woman’s breasts.

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    1. Remember — we have not yet heard the school system’s side of the story (at least, I have not). It’s at least possible that the teacher made false statements to the school system re the topless photo or re how the topless photo came to be available to students in the school + that the discharge was for the false statements, not for the photo itself. Not saying that this is what happening; I’m just making this up. But, this is always a problem when the media has access to only one side of a story.

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  5. Labor Lawyer: Excellent points. There are indeed always two sides to every story. Eventually the truth will emerge, but I tend to believe the teacher in this particular case.

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