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Aug 11, 2010 3:26 PM

Teacher Fired For Reporting Animal Abuse On School Grounds Reinstated

A Bath County school teacher fighting to keep her job after reporting the names of students accused of animal abuse to PETA received some good news Wednesday.

In April, eight dead baby opossums were found on Bath County school property. The animals appeared to have been tortured. According to legal documents, teacher Lorraine Leadingham found out which students were suspected, and, not knowing about what the school was doing to deal with the students, sent their names to PETA.

"I took a stand and put my job on the line for it," Leadingham said Wednesday. "And I feel that what I did was right."

The school district originally fired Leadingham for releasing the students' names. However, on Tuesday an independent tribunal overturned her firing, saying though she should not have released the names to PETA, she was right to report the incident to an outside agency because "school officials attempted to keep the incident quiet ... because the students were the children of prominent community citizens."

"At the time, I was pretty distraught over what I had saw and heard, and, I guess I acted before I gave good forethought," said Leadingham. "It was comforting to know (Tuesday) that not everyone felt that this was a case of boys being boys and that it's okay for such torture and abuse of animals to be quietly swept under the rug."

Leadingham says she does not plan on taking any future legal action against the school district. She said she will return to work as a teacher in Bath County, but does not know exactly when that will happen.

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