The teacher who departed amid controversy over semi-nude photos taken of and by his students is on paid administrative leave.
Allan Barnes' departure from the classroom was
At the time, district officials would not say whether Barnes had left on his own accord or if he had been forced out. They said only that he was no longer teaching.
Senior Carina Ramirez said she was approached in December by faculty members who had found portraits she said she took on campus of a teenage couple embracing while nude. About that time, Barnes was replaced by a substitute teacher.
According to parents who said they've been in touch with Barnes in recent weeks, administrators accused him of affording students too much privacy in the on-campus studio during lunchtime and after school.
District officials confirmed this week that Barnes was placed on paid administrative leave Dec. 13, 2011, but would not state why, and when or if he is expected to return.
"There is not much I can say about this personnel matter," said Debra Washington, Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District's assistant superintendent for human resources.
Superintendent Sandra Lyon has declined to comment.
Ramirez said she had uploaded the photos to edit and use solely in a portfolio for college applications. She said she snapped other nude portraits that were displayed in a student art show and that had garnered approval from the high school's principal.
All of them followed Barnes' guidelines, she said: "No nips, no pubes."
But when Ramirez went to retrieve the photo from the art show, she said, the chair of the school's art department told her it had been confiscated. Shortly after that, she learned her other photos meant for the college portfolio had been found on the server, and Barnes was replaced by a substitute teacher.
Barnes was hired as a probationary teacher Sept. 3, 2010. He taught two levels of photography classes. He earned the respect and admiration of students who said they are uninspired by a new, longer-term substitute teacher who took over their classes about two weeks ago.
"We are so lucky to have photography [classes], so lucky," said junior Julia Gerhardt. "We are grateful it wasn't shut down, but if they're going to keep the department alive, they've go to keep the spark alive—that's Barnes."
Students have hung posters on campus where they recently staged another protest to bring the situation to the attention of their peers.
Parents call the situation a "debacle." Many told the board of education in February that the incident should have been used as an opportunity for students to learn about photography and the law.
"Actions taken by the administration did not solve the initial problem," said Santa Monica High parent June Stoddard. "Why have the actions of one or two adventuresome students resulted in his removal? In what way has this gutting of the program, cancellation of Mr. Barnes' invited speakers, and dismantling of the lighting studio enhanced the safety or education of the students? How has Samohi benefited from these actions?"
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