Why do school administrators so often side with students over teachers when kids are at fault?

I have a suspicions that this case has more to do with sexism than the student/teacher dynamic, but it plays out like the student gets off scot free. The teacher left her phone unlocked in class so an enterprising student looked through her pictures, found some naked ones she took for her husband, snapped pictures of it with his own phone and shared it, and now the teacher has been fired.

I get that schools, especially public schools, depend on funding, and part of that money is determined by student attendance, grades, etc. The teachers seem like expendable commodities even though its harder to find a teacher than students. Can someone explain to me why, in this instance, they didn’t just automatically expel the student? When I was in junior high, one kid hit another in the face, drawing a little bit of blood. It was just one punch. That kid was expelled soon after.

In this case, the student stole personal information from a teacher and shared it. He’s at fault 100%. He should be expelled. And anyone caught at school looking at the pictures should also be expelled. The superintendent gave a piss poor reason for punishing the teacher that smacks of blaming rape victims. He said she should have passworded her phone.

Translation: Its ok to have bad stuff as long as we don’t know about it.

In fact the reality is even more stupid. There was nothing inappropriate on her phone because its fine to take naked pictures for your spouse. The superintendent wants to condemn those actions and punish the teacher simply because the information is out instead of going after the real culprit. This is like the teacher collecting Nazi memorabilia, something perfectly legal, but someone finding out and telling the whole school and firing the teacher for that. The act she’s being punished for is not illegal, so they create some stupid ass reason to punish her. The stupidity doesn’t stop there, however:

Contributing to the delinquency of a minor is when you buy a kid a beer. Its when you lie and sneak him into an NC-17 movie. Its when you give him money to play slots at a casino. It is definitely NOT leaving your phone unlocked. The agent of the misdeed here is the student. At no point did the teacher force, coerce, suggest, or infer that there was anything bad on the phone to tempt the kid. She just forgot to lock her phone, like forgetting your keys. With Eubanks’ stupid logic, it would be like if you forget your keys and some kid takes your car for a joyride and crashes. That would be your fault.

I think the school needs to back up their teachers. Punish this kid as if he was secretly taking naked photos of the teacher himself. Expel him and any one he shares it with. Punish any kid who tries to intimidate or humiliate the teacher with the pictures. Instead, they are blaming the victim and teaching these kids a terrible lesson: if you steal someone else’s stuff and people don’t like it, you can get them in trouble. The article doesn’t even talk about the punishment, if any, the student got. I’ll bet it was nothing, or a slap on the wrist.

Since most teachers are union members, and subject to a collective bargaining agreement, it sounds like the teacher has good grounds for a wrongful dismissal suit.

I agree 100%. The teacher is the victim in this case.

I agree with you about this particular case. But I don’t think it has anything to do with sexism (and think the imbalance probably would have been even greater were it a male teacher and female students).

In general, society tends to put 100% of the blame, or close to it, on adults in all adult/child interactions, especially if the adult is some sort of authority figure. I myself don’t agree with this societal attitude, but that’s what it is, in a broad variety of situations.

I generally agree with the OP. The teacher did nothing wrong, (if we have a correct understanding of the facts) and the student did.

I thing this goes too far

What should a kid be expelled for* receiving* these photos? I don’t have any control or responsibility for things people send to me.

IME, the premise of the OP is wrong. In matters of student-teacher conflict, the administration almost always sides with the teacher, even when the teacher is at a fault, much less when the kid is at fault.

The exception is cases of moral panics like this one. We tend to punish the women who take the nude photos even when it makes no sense. This is one example. Another good example is when we prosecute teenage girls for child pornography for sending nude selfies of themselves.

I agree that the kid should be well punished. I wouldn’t mind seeing him serve time.

I don’t agree that the teacher is blameless. What she did is the equivalent of bringing in a photo album and leaving it where students could get to it. It’s one thing if that’s photos of your vacation trip; it’s quite another if it has stuff that could be considered porn. And if you’re so naive as to believe that no high school kid would break the rules and find it – and share it – then teaching high school may not be a good choice for you.

In a similar vein, prison guards shouldn’t leave weapons lying where inmates could get them, simply trusting that none of them would break the rules and take one.

I think this is generally the case when the teacher has done something in the capacity of teacher, and this because they’re acting on behalf of the administration, which is siding with itself.

In cases like this one, where there is a personal, non-teaching, interaction, I don’t think this is so.

The kid ought to be punished, but the teacher screwed up as well.

A little different situation, but close. Lets say the teacher, instead of having nekked pics of hubby, had brought a briefcase with Playgirl inside and left it on her desk unlocked.

Kid opens briefcase, snaps pic of nude guy and send it to friends.

Should the teacher be held blameless?


Damn, beaten to the punch

Not the person you’re responding to, but there’s a difference between “Douchebag McGee forwarded Mrs. Teacher’s photos to everyone indiscriminately” and “Douchebag McGee told Horny Harry he had picture of Mrs. Teacher nude, Harry asked for them, and Douchebag complied”. The first, I agree there should be no punishment. The second, I can see a punishment there.

I somewhat agree with Gary T. I don’t want to victim-blame, in that the teacher is certainly a victim and I don’t think she should be punished, but preventative measures like password-protecting your phone, not keeping nudes on your phone, and not bringing media with nudes on it outside your home are still good ideas. I think someone whose house gets robbed should still get the police to look into it, but I would also recommend that person lock their doors next time.

I don’t think a phone is the same as a photo album, which basically invites people who see it to flip through it–the assumption is that it’s ok to flip through a photo album and if you don’t want people to, you lock it up. In no place or time is it considered acceptable to pick up someone else’s phone and start flipping through it. In many, many cases, spouses don’t flip through each other’s phones without asking. Friends don’t flip through someone’s phone without asking. If you were at a bar and everyone’s phones were on the table and you picked one up and started flipping through it, it would make people’s jaw drop.

And I don’t think a nude photo of a teacher is the same as a weapon in a prison. No one was harmed except the teacher. And honestly, as many naked pictures as there are out there, this would blow over. Naked pictures of your teacher in 2016 is not the same as naked pictures of your teacher in 1986: it’s nothing like as big of a deal.

The basis for the discipline was supposedly that she failed to keep her phone secure from her class. That same logic would apply to lots of other failures to keep a student from being delinquent. But in the instances that don’t involve some moral panic over nudity, the school usually sides with the teacher. If the kid had taken some pepper spray from her purse and maced somebody, I very much doubt the teacher would get blamed. (I haven’t seen that case arise specifically, but I’ve seen lots of examples of students getting in trouble for things a teacher could easily have prevented that never involve discipline for the teachers.)

You and I have very different ideas of what is appropriate to do with someone else’s photo album. In no universe would I have thought it was ok to take someone else’s physical photo album off their desk and start flipping through it.

I would tend to disagree with you about the pepper spray example. You need to distinguish between “could have easily prevented” and negligently contributed to the incident, which is the pepper spray case.

I’d probably ask, too, but I wouldn’t have quite the shocked reaction I would if someone picked up my phone and started flipping through it. And if it’s a photo album on their coffee table at home, the request would be pretty perfunctory: I’d assume it was there for display.

I don’t think bringing pepper spray to class in a personal bag is negligent, but I can see arguments both ways. It probably depends on the context. I certainly don’t think failing to put a passcode on your phone is negligent–certainly not moreso than hundreds of examples of minor things teachers could have done to prevent student misconduct but for which they are never punished.

Sometimes you should be fired - not for what you actually did but for being stupid enough to do it. It is stupid to have nude photos (of anyone) on your phone unattended. Hell, do you know how many teachers in my school along have had their phones stolen when they set it down in class and wander off? Four. (Technically three but one teacher had it happen to them twice).

But it’s not at home, it’s on a desk at a school.

Even if it were at home, it’s polite to ask before you look through it. And there’s nothing wrong with asking to see a picture on someone’s phone. Of course, the person being asked can decline in both cases.

Yes, of course. I’m not arguing it’s okay to look through a photo album–I’m arguing that there is an even greater expectation of privacy towards one’s phone. Do you disagree with that?

I’m not disagreeing with you about this. I personally think the teacher should not be sanctioned and the kid should be suspended.

But what we’re discussing is not our personal views of this case but whether the “premise of the OP” is correct. And what I’m saying here is that societal attitudes tend to attribute the blame in cases such as these to adults and find them to be negligent (similar to guys leaving harmful things on their property which harm kids who break in and injure themselves), and both the teacher leaving her phone unattended and the teacher leaving her pepper spray unattended fit this category. It’s not the same as a situation in which the teacher did not contribute in any way other than failing to prevent it.