A teacher has been fired after showing students postcards of classical paintings that had nudity in them. One parent was so disturbed that she called the police, insisting the teacher was showing the children pornography. The school has since shredded the postcards at the request of the school district, but the teacher argued that he retrieved the pictures from the school’s library.
Mateo Rueda, a Utah art teacher at Lincoln Elementary School, showed fifth and sixth graders a gaggle of postcards.
Rueda said he was unaware there were some portraits that contained nudity. Fox New reported that the teacher did remove some of the photos that he felt would be too inappropriate for his students.
“This is not material at all that I would use. I had no idea,” he said after he was fired. To keep his reputation clean, the art teacher plans to appeal his termination.
According to Rueda, he showed the students “Iris Tree” which was created by an Italian painter in the Impressionist era. The other portrait was from 18th-century artist Francois Boucher called “Odalisque.”
Of the children interviewed, most said they felt as if the images were no big deal. In fact, many of them were laughing. “There were some pictures that were a little weird, and most kids were laughing,” according to Bella Jensen, a fifth-grade student of Rueda.
Some kids were reportedly disturbed by the images, and they felt it was inappropriate. Rueda said he “encouraged” his students to speak to their parents about the images and engage in a conversation on art, according to the Daily Mail.
When one student did discuss the postcards with a parent, the parent called the police to report Rueda. When county sheriffs entered the school following the report, they found Principal Jeni Buist shredding the postcards at the request of the school district.
“She said she was putting the postcards and paintings in the shredder at the request of the school district so they wouldn’t be distributed again,” Chad Jensen, a Cache County deputy said.
Another parent, Venessa Rose Pixton, claimed her 11-year-old son said Rueda told the class, “there’s nothing wrong with female nipples. You guys need to grow up and be mature about this.”
Rueda has since refuted those claims. “I did say that when you grow up, you’re going to find yourselves going to museums or to places where unavoidably there’s going to be nudity.”
Rueda visited the police station a few days after the incident. He was subsequently fired by the school district, but he plans to fight his termination.
“I’ve worked professionally and very well with a lot of people. A lot of people know me and know my character. The terms of termination are belittling of my character, and to that end they are a defamation of character.”