updated 1/10/2007 5:21:50 AM ET 2007-01-10T10:21:50

An art teacher whose off-hours work as a so-called “butt-printing artist” became widely circulated among high school students has been fired.

The Chesterfield County School Board, in a unanimous voice vote, fired Stephen Murmer at a meeting Tuesday night, spokeswoman Debra Marlow said.

In its decision, the board reasoned that students have a right to receive their education in an environment free from distractions and disruptions, Marlow said. The decision also is in keeping with court rulings that hold that teachers are expected to lead by example and be role models, she said.

Jason Anthony, Murmer’s attorney, called the vote “a bad day for the First Amendment.”

“Chesterfield lost a tremendous asset today,” he said.

Murmer, a teacher at Monacan High School, was suspended in December after objections were raised about his private abstract artwork, much of which includes smearing his posterior and genitals with paint and pressing them against canvas.

His paintings sell for as much as $900 each on his Web site.

The unique approach to art became a topic when a clip showing Murmer, wearing a fake nose and glasses, a towel on his head and black thong, turned up on YouTube.com and became the talk of the high school.

© 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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