Leigh Anne Arthur, a South Carolina high school teacher who was forced to resign because a student stole and circulated a nude picture she had taken for her husband for Valentine’s Day, has garnered support from thousands of supporters who have signed an online petition clamoring for her to be reinstated at her job.
As the Charlotte Observer reports, the petition was started by students, Josh Sinclair, Matthew Caldwell, and Jacob Barnett. The trio said Mrs. Arthur, who had taught mechanics and engineering at the school for more than a decade, was coerced to resign even though she had her privacy violated.
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They deemed the treatment of the teacher as unfair, especially when the student involved had not been punished. And an online petition to have the South Carolina teacher rehired has now gone viral.
Excerpts from the petition read “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. After being escorted off 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 (a field that includes elements of mechanical and electric engineering with computer programming) 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.”
Arthur said she was patrolling the hallways nearby and left her phone on the desk when it was accessed by a student. Arthur has identified the student involved but still refuses to name him. She says he made it obvious that he had a grudge against her, telling her at one point that “your day of reckoning is coming.”
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She believes he should be held accountable for his actions.
“He knows right and wrong. He had the ultimate decision to take my pictures, and he had the ultimate decision to send them out,’ she said. ‘He had to hit my apps button and to open up all my apps and then open my gallery.”
Jacob Barnett emphasized that there is an “unspoken rule” when it comes to what’s on the teachers’ desk in the classroom: you don’t touch other peoples’ private property. He says that includes the teacher’s cell phone.
But the Union County School Superintendent David Eubanks said Arthur should get part of the blame because she had allowed students to use her phone before, saying that her phone was part of the equipment used in the class’ lessons.
Eubanks said, “Knowing that, why did she put that photograph on that cell phone?”
The Union County School District’s interim superintendent added that the phone wasn’t locked with a passcode and also questioned whether Arthur was where she should have been when she left the phone on the desk.
Arthur said that none of the students involved in sharing the photo had been punished. On Wednesday, she said that color copies of the picture were dropped in her mailbox with a handwritten message on the back, a move that made her call the sheriff’s office.
Arthur said that she had been forced to resign. She also said she doesn’t feel the student who shared the image should face harsh punishment.
“He’s 16, he’s going to make stupid decisions. We all made stupid decisions at 16,” she said.
Meanwhile, police in Union are now moving forward with a criminal investigation of the nude photos case and have obtained a search warrant to access the suspect’s phone for a forensic examination.
In what may be taken as even more good news for Mrs. Arthur, she’s getting a massive amount of support from around the country, at least as far as the online petition to have her re-hired is concerned. The young men who started the petition originally had a goal of 1,000 signatures. As of this writing, the petition to rehire Mrs. Arthur has received over 11,100 signatures.
Do you believe Leigh Anne Arthur should get her job back? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
[Image via Shutterstock/Olga Danylenko]