New York teacher who says she was fired 'lost everything' over topless selfie

PHOTO: Lauren Miranda, a former math teacher for Bellport Middle School on Long Island, New York, plans to sue the South County Central School District for $3 million if she is not re-hired. PlayWABC
WATCH Teacher who said she was fired over topless selfie says she 'lost everything'

The New York teacher who says she was fired after a topless selfie from 2016 circulated around the school where she taught can't believe she lost everything she "worked so hard for over a selfie," she told ABC News in her first sit-down interview since the incident.

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Lauren Miranda, 25, a former math teacher at Bellport Middle School on Long Island, said she took the "old" photo one morning when she was getting ready in her bedroom and sent it "to the person she was seeing at the time." She never expected it to go public, she said.

"I think when anybody sends a picture they only expect it to be received by the person that they sent it to and nobody else," Miranda said.

(MORE: New York teacher allegedly fired over topless selfie threatens to sue school)

The photo then resurfaced three years later, she said, adding that she found out from a colleague who texted her on Jan. 11, saying, "The kids...are saying they have a naked photo of you."

The Monday after that, she was placed on home assignment without the opportunity to prepare her students for their quarterly exams.

"I literally was told to stay home, to lay low, to not talk to anybody — anyone at the school obviously," she said.

Miranda has no idea how the students got a hold of the photo, she said.

"How it got out is still the million-dollar question," Miranda said.

After an internal investigation, the school informed Miranda that they have "enough proof" to say that she "did nothing wrong or illegal," she said. It is legal in the state of New York to appear topless in public.

But on March 27, Miranda received a message from a union representative telling her that the school board had voted to terminate her, she said. She was in her fourth year working there.

PHOTO: Lauren Miranda, 25, was fired from her teaching job after a topless selfie of herself went public by accident. WABC
Lauren Miranda, 25, was fired from her teaching job after a topless selfie of herself went public by accident.

In a press conference on Tuesday, her attorney, John Ray, said the school district fired her because she could no longer act as a role model to her students.

A representative for the school district told ABC News that it would not comment on the case because it is active litigation.

Miranda said her termination sends the wrong messages to the very girls she teaches and that she is trying to be a role model for young women.

"This happens all the time; girls have their photos AirDropped," she said. "In the high school, I can think of three separate instances in my four years alone that a girl has had her, you know, naked picture, whatever it might be, sent all amongst her peers."

Miranda continued, "So we expect this girl to go back to school, to go about her life, to continue doing, you know, her routines and whatever."

ABC News could not request comment from the man who Miranda was seeing at the time since she did not provide his name. However, she says he also works at the school and that he was the only person to whom she sent the photo.

Miranda is planning to sue the school district for $3 million for gender discrimination if it does not re-hire her. A review Miranda provided to ABC New York station WABC from last year states that she is a "highly effective teacher."

"Ms. Miranda demonstrated in this lesson to be an outstanding Math instructor, knowledgeable of her content area, but most of all genuinely dedicated to the academic progress of her students," the review stated, according to WABC.

Miranda would have been eligible for tenure in June, according to WABC.

"Any time a man has ever exposed his chest, no one has ever commented or had any problem with it whatsoever," Ray said during Tuesday's news conference. "But, when a woman displays her chest, as happened here, she gets fired from her job."

Miranda said she has "never wanted to be anything else" other than a teacher.

"My favorite part of my job is the kids," she said. "They come in every day with something fresh to talk about, whether it be something that happened outside of school, or in a different class, or that they saw online."