Lauren Miranda, a 25-year-old middle school teacher in Long Island, was fired from her job after a teenage student ended up with a topless selfie of the math teacher. But Miranda never sent the photo in question to any student; she sent it to a male teacher in the district she previously had a relationship with. Apparently, the photo was disseminated and somehow wound up in the student’s hands.
Miranda was fired last week from South Country Central School District after being briefly put on administrative leave over the incident, despite her high marks on past teacher evaluations, reported The New York Times on Wednesday.
Recalling the day she was shown the topless photo of herself by administration, Miranda said, “That was probably the worst day that I endured.”
The odd case certainly raises questions concerning the digital age, where so-called sexting is a ubiquitous practice, and “revenge porn” has been become a legislative issue, one which was even discussed by presidential candidates during the 2016 election.
But Miranda has focused on the gendered aspect of the incident, more specifically: nipples.
Ms. Miranda is suing the school district, the superintendent, and other administrators on the basis of gender discrimination, seeking $3 million and to be reinstated at the school.
Though Miranda scored high marks on past teacher evaluations, which were obtained by the Times, and was allegedly going to be promoted pre-selfie leak, she was told she was no longer a proper “role model” for the students and had to be reprimanded. Miranda and her legal representation are arguing that if the nipples in the photo had belonged to a male teacher, no action would have been taken. In fact, Miranda noted that male teachers in the district have topless photos on their easily-accessible social media platforms and have never, to her knowledge, been reprimanded, let alone fired.
“Ms. Miranda, once again, it was a true pleasure to visit your classroom,” one comment on a teacher evaluation for Miranda reads. The Times claims the math teacher’s reviews show that she’s scored high marks in nearly all evaluated areas.
Miranda and her lawyer John Ray claim the alleged gender bias is unacceptable in the current year.
Mr. Ray contends his client’s firing was carried out because she is female: “The superintendent and the school board — they didn’t get the memo that men and women are equal,” he told the Times.
“This is a woman who just takes a photo — a selfie of herself and nothing else,” the lawyer continued. “And then from that, they manage to say that she’s done something dirty. Something sexually filthy. That’s just not what we’re about anymore in the millennial age.”
In a letter Ray provided to the Times, South Country Central School District Joseph Giani claimed the teacher is responsible for the incident, even if she didn’t send the photo to a student.
Miranda “‘caused, allowed, or otherwise made it possible’ for an inappropriate photo to be distributed to students,” Giani wrote, according to outlet, adding that she “‘failed to take adequate precautionary measures’ to prevent the photo from getting into students’ hands.”