Tags: Education | Homeland Security | S.C. | Cell | Phone

South Carolina Teacher In Cellphone Firestorm Is Wrong

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Thursday, 10 Mar 2016 11:03 AM Current | Bio | Archive

Pop quiz. 

Your house is left unlocked.

An intruder enters, stealing compromising information which he then uses to incriminate you. With ample evidence of his crimes, he is caught red-handed.

Should you expect:
  • The perpetrator to be brought to justice?
  • Or, to be publicly scolded by authorities for leaving your door unlocked; blamed for enabling the invader; and get fired from your job?

No, it’s not an April Fools Day question. Instead, it’s an analogy to a situation playing out right now in the Union County, South Carolina public school district.

The only problem? It’s just not true.

On February 18, teacher Leigh Anne Arthur stepped out of her classroom to monitor students in the hallway. She left her unlocked cell phone on her desk.

In her absence, a 16-year old student accessed Arthur’s phone without permission. There he found a semi-nude photo of Arthur, and widely distributed it.

Arthur, told she would be subject to disciplinary proceedings, resigned. Ever since, she has been blasting the administration, and Superintendent Dr. David Eubanks in particular, for ignoring the invasion of her privacy — claiming she was punished despite being the victim.

The problem for Ms. Arthur is that she seems to be ignoring those things called “facts.”

Sunshine is the best antiseptic, so let’s shed some light: 

Arthur was not fired, nor was she “forced” to resign, as was widely reported. She resigned of her own free will. Period. And she had ample time to mull her decision. Most damning for Ms. Arthur is that, under South Carolina law, she had the right to appeal to the school board for whatever action was taken against her. And why wouldn’t she? After all, if she were truly the victim, one would think she would welcome her “day in court.”

But instead of fighting the Superintendent, she resigned. That bears repeating: she chose to leave. Case closed.

Despite claims of victimization, Ms. Arthur never reported the incident. In fact, it was Dr. Eubanks who launched an investigation (including contacting law enforcement) as soon as he became aware of the situation, which was brought to his attention by staff and students four days after it occurred.

The bottom line. It’s hard for Ms. Arthur to make the case that she was wronged when:
  • She voluntarily left.
  • And, she never reported what had occurred.
"The whole premise of my privacy being invaded is being ignored, and that’s what’s wrong,” Arthur stated.

While Arthur is framing this as privacy-rights-gone-astray issue, it’s nothing of the sort.

The invasion of Arthurs’s privacy is most certainly not being ignored, as the student is being held accountable by both the school and law enforcement. He faces an expulsion hearing on March 14, and has been arrested and charged with computer crimes and aggravated voyeurism.

And he was being detained at the state’s Department of Juvenile Justice.

If Ms. Arthur would care to explain how that’s “ignoring” the alleged privacy violation, the country is all ears.

Let’s cut to the chase. Arthur would have faced disciplinary action because she violated school procedures, according to Dr. Eubanks, and clearly exercised bad judgment.

Teachers monitoring hallways are instructed to do so from their doorways so they can keep an eye on both the corridor and classroom. But numerous witnesses state she was in a completely different room. So clearly, had she followed the established monitoring protocols, the incident would never have taken place.

Arthur routinely allowed students to access to her phone, which, however well-meaning, was not prudent. Should 16-year olds understand the difference between using her phone with, and without, permission, and know right from wrong?

Sure, in theory.

But in the real world, that simply cannot be assumed.

Teachers in particular can never lose sight of the temptations that come with students holding more computer power in their hands than the Apollo spacecraft.

But for Pete’s sake, if you are going to allow students to use your phone, you cannot, under any circumstances, have wildly inappropriate material that could be accessed with a few clicks. That’s not a backwards-Southern-evangelical mindset, as many have been so quick to say.

Instead, it’s simple common sense — a belief that a teacher’s nude selfie is out-of-bounds to have on an unlocked phone that students use.

Union County is a slice of Americana: a small, quaint place that adheres to the values of accountability, responsibility, and courage. The last thing its people, and Superintendent Eubanks in particular, would have wanted is to be the epicenter of a national firestorm.

But despite coming under withering attack from the uninformed, they have stood their ground and taught the rest of the country the most valuable lesson: the truth shall set you free.

Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, Freindly Fire Zone Media. Read more reports from Chris Freind — Click Here Now.









 

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Freind
Union County adheres to the values of accountability, responsibility, and courage. The last thing its people would have wanted is to be the epicenter of a national firestorm. They have stood their ground and taught the rest of the country, the truth shall set you free.
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