Teacher who said she was fired over topless selfie says she 'lost everything'

Lauren Miranda, a middle school math teacher on Long Island, said she sent the photo to the person she was seeing at the time but somehow a student got a hold of it.
7:19 | 04/05/19

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Transcript for Teacher who said she was fired over topless selfie says she 'lost everything'
A picture of my upper torso now has dismantled and ruined my entire life. Reporter: A teacher in a small town. A topless selfie that was never meant for everyone to see. I sent this picture to the person I was seeing at the time. Reporter: That picture leading to a multi-million dollar legal battle against a school district, inciting a debate about digital privacy. I think it's absurd, that I'm fired over my chest. She has been discriminated against because she is a woman. In my whole life. People ask you, if you weren't a teacher, what would you be? That is a really hard question to answer when you've never dreamed of doing anything else in your entire life. Reporter: For 25-year-old Lauren Miranda, working in education was her entire world. My favorite part of my job was the kids. They come in every day with something fresh to talk about. I worked with the best women in the whole school. They were always so supportive and helpful. And they've really, since the day I started did nothing but help me grow as a teacher. Reporter: A math teacher at bell port middle school on the picturesque shores of long Island. But one selfie she sent to Alex an ex three years ago had been leaked. I get a text message from a friend of mine in a different building. And she says that the kids have are saying they have a naked photo of you and that your picture's going around. And I was like offended that she would even say like a kid has a naked picture of me, how? When I initially got questioned, my principal was in possession of it. And spun his computer monitor around and there's, there's picture of myself. Reporter: How'd it make you feel with your principal looking at a picture of you without the top on? You feel like your privacy has been invaded. Reporter: What was your emotional reaction to this happening in this coming out? I was hysterical. I was shaking. I was driving home, and I'm on the phone. I'm with my cousin and my mom. And I will to pull over and actually vomit. I had never been so upset that it caused me to get sick. I've never felt so small before. Reporter: She says the school placed her on home assignment, ultimately letting her go. I received a text message Thursday afternoon from my district union representative saying that the vote, they voted on it last night, and that I've been fired. Reporter: What did you think when you saw that? It's like ripping off a band aid all over again. It really brings you back to that moment when everything happened, and it really solidifies that wow, I've lost everything I've worked so hard for over a selfie. Reporter: Determined to fight back, she hired an attorney and plans to sue the school district for $3 million. What's the message you're trying to send with this? Men and women are equal. It's 2018. My chest is no more offensive than a man's chest. So why am I being penalized? Because if a man took the same picture he wouldn't be in the same situation I'm in. Reporter: There's still one question, how was the photo made public to begin with. Miranda says she only sent the picture to one person. Have you talked to him since this happened? Briefly, but not in depth. This photo is so old. How does a three year old picture that I sent to an ex surface three years later in the hands of my students or some student that goes to the school? I think that's district's job to figure out and backtrack. I really do. I think that they were negligent by not figuring out the source of this. Reporter: You're not interested in figuring out the source. At this point, I don't know if it would help me anymore. It is not Warren's duty to focus on how the picture got out. Its what the school's duty to do that and remain so. This case is about an employer that's just not keeping up with the times and has these really archaic notions of what sexually appropriate conduct is. When we have a crime victim who's being exploited for sexual reasons we can't just fire them. We have to support them. Reporter: Carrie Goldberg is a brooklyn-based lawyer whose firm represents victims of online privacy breaches. A reaction would be to investigate it, to help the victim report it to the police. To help them contain the spread of the images and not to just take her livelihood away from This photo was sent between two adults. This is my private life. Yes, I'm a teacher. Do I carry out my role model face? And in environments where I might run into families or students? Absolutely. I'm entitled to a private life, though. Reporter: But when it comes to teachers, this isn't the first example of a private life attracting public scrutiny. I was having drinks on vacation. Reporter: In 2009, Ashley Payne, an English teacher from Georgia resigned from her job after a parent complained about photos she posted to her private Facebook account. The only way to avoid having a suspension on my record would be to resign. Reporter: She later sued, but the court ruled in favor of the school district. Payne appealed and lost. I feel raw. Violated. Reporter: And in south Carolina, Leanne Arthur, a high school teacher, was asked to resign after a student allegedly stole her phone and shared partially nude photos of her. I left my phone. I did not knowingly leave my phone sitting on my desk. Didn't think that a student would do that. Reporter: Arthur sued the district and eventually settled. The student was charged with computer crimes and aggravated voyeurism and later pled guilty. Reporter: Do you think it's ever appropriate for a school to fire someone over a nude photo? Absolutely not. Reporter: So a student gets access to a nude photo of a teacher. What should happen in this case The school had a duty to investigate. They didn't. They did something. But very little. That was their first mistake. And they didn't, because they had already made up their minds. The superintendent said you can't be in the classroom if those kids can see that picture. Reporter: When contacted by ABC news, a representative for the school district declined to comment. I still have bills to pay. I'm at the bottom of a hole trying to dig myself back back up. Reporter: I'm Kimberly brooks in Long Island.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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