Online petition garners support for Pocatello teacher fired over Facebook photo

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Photo: Video by IdahoOnYourSide.com

Online petition garners support for Pocatello teacher fired over Facebook photo

By Karen Lehr. CREATED Nov 10, 2013

The organizer of a nationwide petition hopes to help an Idaho teacher and coach get her job back.

Pocatello High School girls’ basketball coach Laraine Cook was fired for a photo she posted on her own Facebook page.

"I don't feel that it's an immoral photo and that's what the termination is based on," Cook said.

The picture was snapped during a family vacation in July and shows Cook’s fiancé, Tim Harrison, touching her right breast. Harrison is the school’s football coach but kept his job after being reprimanded.

"I would love to be able to coach those girls again, I love teaching. I love coaching. I love working with the kids," Cook said.

The school district stands behind its decision to fire Cook for the photo they say is inappropriate.

A former Pocatello resident was enraged by the district's decision and started an online petition from Los Angeles.

"The fact that they kind of stepped over and said not only is this sexual, it's offensively sexual, I find very confusing and it looks like a lot of other people do too," petition organizer Nikky Prause said.

The site has attracted petitioners from across the country, and the number of signatures is rapidly increasing. One Pocatello man who signed the petition says the school district's decision reflects badly on the whole state.

"One little mistake and your whole livelihood goes down the drain,” he said. “It's really bad on Idaho, just makes us look like a bunch of prudes!”

On Your Side viewers seem to agree. Thaddeus M. commented on our Facebook page questioning, "So the male coach performs the action of grabbing the breast of the female coach - his fiancé, no less - and she gets severely punished? How patriarchal, sexist, and typical for Idaho. I thought our great state was better than this. I'm disappointed and offended."

Connie L. agrees. "This picture doesn't have anything to do with her ability to be a teacher. Teachers are allowed to enjoy life, smile, have a good time... I’m sure the president of the US has touched a breast at one time or another, move on folks, much worse problems in the world.”

The petition can be found here and you can join the conversation on our Facebook page.