INDIANAPOLIS — An Eastwood Middle School teacher wants tougher consequences for the students who photoshopped her face onto an X-rated picture.
Angela Tipton was an eighth-grade English teacher when she received a disturbing text message from one of her sons last spring.
“Some kids from your school are sending around a naked picture of you. I don’t know if it’s real, but I just saw your face and it’s disgusting,” Angela Tipton told CBS4’s Debby Knox, recalling the message from her son.
Angela said when she looked at the image, she recognized her face — but the body was that of someone else and was posing in a sexually suggestive way.
“It was definitely my face and I was like, very disturbed,” said Angela. “I know that is not my body, but the face was mine.”
The image, she learned had been created by some of her students and then shared amongst them. An Instagram account was even set up to display the image.
“Children were tagged in it,” Angela said. “There were comments from students that were supportive. But even more upsetting, they thought it was me. It was a spiral downward of panic.”
The students who created and shared the image were punished. They were removed from her class. One student was placed in another school for the remainder of the year. A no-contact order was put in place. The students’ schedules were changed. Their cell phones were banned from campus. The school district worked with the parents to prevent further issues. But Angela felt the measures did not go far enough.
“When you allow the kids who distributed this to remain in the building, it makes it look like it’s not that bad,” said Angela.
When Angela sought a harsher penalty, she claims administrators backpedaled.
“They felt the kids were restored, the punishment they received was adequate and that it should not be a problem for me to be in the same working space with them.”
CBS4 asked Washington Township Schools administrators to comment on Angela’s case. They issued this statement.
“Washington Township Schools takes matters involving the misuse of technology seriously. The district will continue to respond to misuse of technology and violations of the district’s code of conduct by investigating the circumstances and implementing appropriate consequences.”Washington Township Schools
Angela filed a complaint with the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office as well. She was informed the responsible students were placed on a diversion program: so no criminal charges will be filed as long as they stay out of trouble.
Since Washington Township Schools receive federal funds, they come under some federal rules. A Title IX investigator looked into her case and issued a report, supporting her claims of sexual harassment and the disciplinary measures taken.
The head of the Washington Township Education Association, Anthony Dean, issued this statement:
“The WTEA expressed unwavering support of Ms. Tipton. Ms. Tipton is a valued member of the WTEA; we are committed to stand in solidarity with her as she and her family recover from the unprovoked harm brought upon them”Washington Township Education Association
Ultimately, Angela wants to see a more comprehensive approach to this kind of harassment. That will take legislative action and changes to the juvenile criminal code. If it doesn’t happen, she fears with current technology and artificial intelligence on the horizon, more teachers and students will be sexually harassed.
“I guarantee I will not be the last person this happens to,” said Angela. “I just hope something good comes out of this.”
Angela Tipton returned to Eastwood Middle School this fall. She is now teaching sixth grade.