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Prep coach fired for Facebook photo
Laraine Cook had a fiancé, a chest, a Facebook account and a job as a high school basketball coach. Nothing unusual there — until those first three items cost her the fourth.
Cook, formerly the girls basketball coach at Pocatello (Idaho) High School, took a summer vacation in July 2013 with her family and fiancé, Tom Harrison — who also happens to coach football at the same school. The two posed for a photo in which Harrison hand's rested on Cook’s clothed breasts. (Cook was wearing a bikini in the photo.) The image was posted to Cook’s Facebook page for about a day before being removed.
According to the Idaho State Journal, an anonymous tipster held onto the photo and recently submitted it to Pocatello High School administrators for review. The seemingly innocuous photo was enough to get the powers that be in District 25 hot, bothered and morally outraged.
Cook was subsequently fired in late October. Her fiancé, however, was simply "reprimanded" and allowed to keep his job — which the New York Daily News attributes to Harrison's winning record as Pocatello's head football coach.
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The school district has hidden safely behind the fortified wall of the ol’ “we don’t publicly discuss personnel matters” policy and wouldn’t tell The Associated Press the reason for Cook’s dismissal. But Cook has spoken out, most recently to KIFI TV in Idaho.
Cook says she doesn’t know how anyone at the district ever saw the photo, given its short lifespan online, but was told by administrators the reason for her firing was because she uploaded the photo to Facebook in the first place.
”In my personal opinion, I don’t feel that photo is something to have me terminated on, no,” she told KIFI. “I don’t feel it’s an immoral photo, and that’s what the termination is based on.”
Cook appealed, but according to local TV station KVPI, the district stood by its decision. Cook says she’ll never make a mistake like that again.
”You just never know and you have to be extremely careful what you do and say,” she said.
Pocatello's girl's basketball team finished third in the state last season.
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