Mitch Albom Article – Teacher Fired – Cell Phone Privacy

Hey 3.5 Readers.

If you’re like me, you’re a nerd interested in technology, so this story I found on USA TODAY stood out to me.

It is by Mitch Albom, author of Tuesdays with Morrie, which is a great book by the way.

The synopsis:  Teacher took nude selfie for husband for Valentine’s Day.  Left it on her phone.  Left phone unattended on her desk.  Student picked up phone, went through it, found the naughty photo, took a picture of it, sent it around everywhere, teacher gets fired, eventually student gets in trouble.

Tough case, right? Yes, it is very stupid to take a naked picture of yourself and doubly stupid to leave it on your phone.  There’s no guarantee of privacy on the Internet so anything you don’t want “out there” shouldn’t be created in the first place.

But then again, this is her private phone.  No one has the right to go through any item that belongs to someone and look around through it.

Yet, I can also see the argument that she brought this phone into a school.  When she did, she brought every virtual piece of data on the phone into the school, including the nude photo.

Definitely should have had a passcode on the phone.  Who doesn’t have a passcode on their phone these days?

I can sympathize with the teacher.  Some silly thing she did in passing, something she thought only she had access to, never thought it would lead to anything.

I do think this is an issue where lawyers.have taken away common sense in the workplace.  The common sense approach would have been to give the teacher a lecture to never let this happen again or else you’re fired.

But I assume the administrators felt the safest thing (for them) would be to fire her outright.

Anyway, lessons to be learned:

  • Don’t take nude photos of yourself.  I don’t because no one wants to see that.  You shouldn’t because no matter how secure you think you are, it can always get out somehow.
  • If you’re stupid and do so anyway, don’t leave them on your device. Delete, delete, delete.
  • Keep in mind when you take your phone into a public building, you’re taking everything on it into a public building.
  • As a general rule, since your privacy can’t be guaranteed on the Internet, the best practice is to not do anything on the Internet that you wouldn’t want to explain to the authorities and/or your mother later.
  • Put a passcode on your phone!
  • Don’t leave your phone unattended.  Keep it with you at all times.


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7 thoughts on “Mitch Albom Article – Teacher Fired – Cell Phone Privacy

  1. I both agree and disagree with you.

    I agree it wasn’t very smart of her. I disagree that she should have been given any disciplinary measures whatsoever. That student should have been given detention for the rest of his life.

    Imagine if it had been the student’s phone and the teacher had accessed that picture: the student and his family would have been awarded massive damages for “psychological trauma” and the teacher would have gone to prison.

    As you pointed out, it’s not about justice, it’s about school officials protecting their own rear ends and lawyers making money.

    • I agree with you. In a perfect, lawyer free world, had I been the principal, I’d of just told her don’t bring your phone to school with a photo like that on it again. That’s pretty reasonable.

      Unfortunately, the lawyers have made a world where common sense doesn’t apply. The administrators are left to worry some new problem may arise down the road, a lawyer will point his finger and shout, “Ha! You knew this teacher did X and you didn’t fire her!” so unfortunately, for the administrators, the easiest thing to do is fire her.

      Either lawyers need to chill out more or people in charge need to stand up a bit more.

  2. I agree with your article, I never take photos of myself, no one would want to see that!

  3. vagabondsaint says:

    Either you left out “Don’t go through other people’s phones because that is a gross violation of their privacy” or you’re content with blaming the victim and not the perpetrator. Also, why the assumption that the picture was on the internet? If she sent the photo to her husband via text message, then it wasn’t posted on the internet and remained a private communication between the two of them. As long as it was on her phone and not, say, Facebook, she had every right to an expectation of privacy.

    Kudos to the students who are trying to get her job back; as Mitch Albom said, they are already smarter than the administrators of their school district.

    Kudos to the law enforcement officials who arrested the student and charged him with violating the computer crime act, aggravated voyeurism, and douchebaggery in a public space. I may or may not have made up that last charge,

    • It was a list of things to do to keep embarrassing photos of yourself off the Internet.

      I don’t think she should have been fired but leaving the photo on a phone she’s bringing into a school wasn’t wise.

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