Students are demanding the reinstatement of a South Carolina teacher who resigned after a boy stole a nude picture of her from her phone.

Thousands of people have signed a petition calling for Leigh Anne Arthur to be given her job back at Union County High School.

The 33-year-old resigned last month, days after a student copied a naked photo of her from her device when she left the room briefly.

He spread the image, which Ms Arthur says was a Valentine’s Day snap for her husband, through text messages and on social media.

But no disciplinary action has been taken against the student.

Ms Arthur, an engineering teacher, said she had left her mobile phone on her desk on 18 February as she monitored a hallway.

A 16-year-old boy took the handset, she said, and used his own phone to take pictures of nude images of Ms Arthur on her device.

Ms Arthur said at the end of the class the student warned her: “Your day of reckoning is coming.”

But David Eubanks, interim superintendent of Union County schools, said Ms Arthur should not have left her phone unlocked.

He said he is not sure if the student involved will be disciplined.

Ms Arthur said she forgives the boy, but believes he should be held responsible for his actions.

“We all make stupid decisions when we’re 16,” she told WYFF-TV.

“He had the ultimate decision to take pictures of my pictures and he had the ultimate decision to send them out.”

More than 7,600 people had signed an online petition in support of Ms Arthur as of Thursday afternoon.

“Leigh Anne Arthur is the victim of a blatant attack of her privacy,” it says.