Sometimes a Nude is Just an Unclothed Body

Student Drawing

Student Drawing by Panse’s Students

“This had nothing to do with First Amendment rights. This had nothing to do with retaliation,” said Richard Zuckerman, attorney for the school district, who was also individually named in the suit. “(Panse) was wrong. He got punished.”

In 2005, school district officials sought to fire the tenured teacher, accusing Panse of bringing sex into his high school classroom and of violating district policy by offering students a figure-drawing class — which would include the use of nude models — off campus and for his profit. The district suspended Panse with pay from his $54,782-a-year job in December 2005. An administrative law judge ruled Jan. 8 that Panse did violate the district’s no-solicitation policy but that district officials failed to prove that his talk of nude-model drawing rose to the level of sexual inappropriateness. Panse served a 15-day suspension without pay and returned to work late this year – Judge throws out art teacher’s suit:

I have been following this case with interest. What rankles me is that the school has tried every way possible to pretend that their complaint is not about the subject. it’s easier to close your eyes if you delude yourself into believing that peripheral issues will detract from the main problem.

when this case started, there was no mention of solicitation, there was no mention of amendment rights – all that counted, to the school, the courts and the world, was that Panse suggested life drawing to his students – life drawing that might involve *gasp!* nudity. He had the temerity to suggest that students who were wishing to continue art into college might find it beneficial to do some life drawing. this is a fact, many colleges require life drawing and appreciate early experience (mine did).

It’s true that this case may not appear to be about the first amendment, it could be argued that this is a distraction from the original charges of sexual inappropriateness. but I believe that this case does involve the issue of freedom of speech. Panse was a tenured teacher, hired to instruct students and prepare those that wish to take it further for college. this is still a core function of a high school teacher.

Many of you may know that when I was younger I wanted to be a doctor. I studied anatomy especially and exposed myself to anything I could learn. at about 14 or so I got a copy of gray’s anatomy, which I devoured. I studied avery part, including the reproductive system. was this wrong? no – it’s necessary to the career I wanted at the time. I think the same situation applies. life drawing (clothed or unclothed) is necessary for all artists, just as understanding how the nude body looks and how the reproductive system works is vital for all doctors.

It was recommended to me that I enter a special program when I was 16. I got to attend uni lectures and a dissection of a human cadaver. for reference, this cadaver was female and, necessarily, nude. this was a recommendation made by my teachers. were they wrong to suggest it? was I wrong to attend? was this sexually inappropriate? (yuk). absolutely not. it was a valuable experience for me and fascinating to boot. was it important that it was nude? no, it needed to be. sometimes a nude is just an unclothed body – and last time I checked, we all had one of these.

Panse was only doing what he thought would be best for his students. he wanted them to succeed and understood that this would be favorably looked upon by colleges. His suggestion, in my opinion, is protected under the first amendment as he was doing his job and assisting his students in the best way he could, using his experience as a teacher to try to prepare his students for college and their chosen careers – and that is never wrong.

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