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When a teacher was called to her principal's office in January for a seminar photo that a student had obtained, she was convinced that the photo did not concern her.
The teacher, Lauren Miranda, 25, said she had never sent such a photo to a student. A teacher union representative who saw the photo said it was not clear if it was her.
What happened next is the debate on labor rights and gender equality, as well as growing concerns about digital privacy in the sexting era.
At a meeting with a majority of men, including colleagues from Bellport Middle School on Long Island High School, a school administrator turned over a computer screen to show Ms. Miranda a topless selfie, allegedly sent to a fellow teacher with whom she would have attended.
Ms. Miranda recalled being humiliated.
"It was probably the worst day I ever had," she said.
Ms. Miranda, a mathematics teacher, was put on paid administrative leave before being finally fired by the South Country Central School District, her lawyer said.
On Monday, Ms. Miranda announced that she was considering suing the school district, its executive director and members of her school board for her dismissal.
In documents filed in preparation for a federal lawsuit, she accused the school district of discrimination based on sex when he had fired her for taking a nude picture that a teenage student had obtained without his consent.
On Wednesday, Miranda and her lawyer, John Ray, said the school district would not have fired her if she had been a male teacher and had taken an identical photo without the breasts.
"The Superintendent and the Governing Board – they have not received a note that men and women are equal," Ray said.
District Superintendent Joseph Giani, as well as the school board chair and vice-chair declined to comment.
All three said the district would not talk about an ongoing lawsuit and asked questions to a public relations firm that also declined to comment.
In an interview Wednesday, Ms. Miranda said that she did not share the photo with students and did not know how a student had obtained it without her consent.
She had sent the picture to a teacher in the school district with whom she had a relationship, she says.
The court record focused on the Superintendent's comments. At a meeting that preceded the suspension of Ms. Miranda, Mr. Giani told the teacher that he would recommend that she be fired because she was no longer a "Model" for students.
He also told Ms. Miranda that he had planned to recommend her for a promotion before seeing the selfie, Ms. Miranda said.
Mr. Ray's office provided The New York Times with a copy of Ms. Miranda's performance evaluation of the previous school year, in which she received the highest mark possible in almost all categories.
"Ms. Miranda, again, it was a real pleasure to visit your classroom," said one of the commentators of the evaluation.
In a letter to The Times, the Superintendent stated that one of the reasons he recommended Ms. Miranda's dismissal was that he had "permitted, permitted, or otherwise made possible" the shipment. An inappropriate photo to the students.
He also wrote that she "had not taken the proper precautionary measures" to prevent the photo from falling into the hands of the students.
We did not know what measures could have been taken. But Ms. Miranda said that she had seen many male teachers post shirtless photos of their personalities on social networks where they were easily accessible. To his knowledge, none of these teachers had been reprimanded.
This disparity, said Mr. Ray, is at the heart of the complaint of discrimination based on sex.
"It's a woman who just takes a picture – a selfie of herself and nothing else," Ray said. "And from there, they can say that she did something dirty. Something sexually dirty. This is not what we are at the millennial age. "
The debate over unequal treatment of nipples has been the subject of considerable attention in recent years. Social networks, in particular, have been criticized for their nudity policies that restrict photos of female nipples but not male nipples.
As early as 2012, a movement for "Free the Nipple" began, lobbying for women's rights to be topless on their photos in social media and in public. Powered by a hashtag, the campaign garnered the public support of several celebrities, including the singer. Miley Cyrus, supermodel Naomi Campbell and actress Cara Delevingne.
As part of her legal complaint, Ms. Miranda claims up to $ 3 million and will return to her job.
"It's the lowest point of my life," Miranda said, adding, "I've never felt so small, so defeated and it's not my fault."