Virginia Teacher Suspended for Painting With Butt

A Virginia school system has suspended an art teacher who they say may be setting a bad example for students with his own extracurricular activity — butt painting.

Stephen Murmer, a self-described "butt-printing artist," was placed on paid administrative leave Friday by Chesterfield County Public Schools, a suburban district of about 60,000 students south of Richmond, Va.

Going by the name Stan Murmur, the teacher sells floral and abstract paintings that he calls "anthropometric monotypes" created by plastering his rump and genitals in paint and pressing them against a canvas. His paintings — depicting tulips, tropical flowers and camouflage — sell online for upwards of $900.

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"I am certainly proud of the ass painting," Stan Murmur said on a clip from "Unscrewed With Martin Sargent" downloaded by Wednesday from YouTube. "I do have a real job where I do have real clients, and I don't think they'd be too understanding if I was also the guy that painted with my ass."

In the clip, Murmur appeared wearing only a black thong and "Groucho" glasses — his shoulder tattoos concealed by duct tape — to demonstrate a style of painting he says he learned in college.

"I followed a girlfriend into a painting and printmaking class," he told host Sargent in the clip. "We had an assignment where we had to create an organic stamping object, bring it in as a print and display it to the class. I chose my ass as that object."

Murmer had yet to respond to phone calls and e-mails from on Wednesday afternoon.

A spokeswoman for the school system told that an investigation into Murmer began when that online video was brought to officials' attention last week.

Debra Q. Marlow, community relations director for Chesterfield County Public Schools, declined to give specific information about Murmer or his case.

"We do have personnel regulations that state the teachers are expected to set examples for students through their personal conduct — that is a written Chesterfield County Public School regulation," she said. "And additionally, the Supreme Court has stated that schools must teach by example, and that teachers, like parents, are role models."

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported Wednesday that this is the second time Murmer has had trouble with the school system. A few years prior, officials discovered his Web site,, but the issue was resolved.

"Somehow it's resurfaced," Kent Willis, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia, told the paper. "Schools need to respect the rights of teachers to have private lives."

Marlow said that the issue doesn't have to do with having a part-time job outside of school.

"Whether they do it in their field or whether they're a waitress, many teachers have second jobs," she said. "I think the key is when it applies to students or staff, when a distraction or disruption occurs in a school, then we have to provide a learning environment free from distractions and disruptions.

"And so any action we would take against a student or a staff member is done to provide students with the best possible learning environment," she said.

Marlow said human resources is investigating, but the five-member elected school board will make the final decision on the case. Murmer could be reinstated or face dismissal. The school board next meets on Jan. 9, 2007.

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