Camera In School Bathroom Catching Heat

By: Lauren Zakalik Email
By: Lauren Zakalik Email

Picture this: Your child asks to go to the restroom at her school. She walks in, expecting privacy, and is shocked when she looks up and sees a camera.

"It was pointing so you could see from the sink to outside of the stall doors," explains Principal Valerie Shelters.

Shelters says they've been having problems at Northwest Elementary in Blackman Township with girls writing obscenities and leaving trash all over the bathroom. So Monday, a couple of staffmembers got so fed up they decided-- completely on their own-- to put a dummy surveillance camera up in the bathroom. The principal says she knew nothing of the decision.

"They (the staff responsible) would make it look like the kids were being filmed so they'd be more cautious of what they were doing," Shelters says.

News 10 was able to see the camera in question. We're told it doesn't actually film anything, and it's supposed to be connected to a microscope. It was obtained, we're told, from a science classroom. It was put in a high corner to let girls know they were being watched-- but what it did was give them a scare.

"They may say it doesn't work, but we don't know that and neither do the children," says Kathy Huber, parent of a fifth-grade girl at Northwest.

Parents Thursday are upset their children's privacy may have been at stake.

"I don't think it's right," says parent Amber Beaman. "I think they should have more supervision, teachers monitoring the bathrooms if it's a problem."

Shelters says as soon as she found out Tuesday of the camera, it camera was taken down, students were explained the situation and the staff members responsible were verbally reprimanded.

"I don't think it was done with maliciousness. It was unfortunately not a well thought-up plan," she says.

And one that's not catching anything but heat.

The principal does say cameras will be going up in other parts of the school-- not the bathroom-- thanks to a technology bond that was passed for the district.

A local prosecutor tells he does not believe there are any legal issues associated with putting a non-working camera up in a bathroom.

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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by Josh Location: Arkansas on Jan 14, 2010 at 02:30 PM
    I am a retired teacher. We need ethicall discipline done professionally. Real cameras OK if they are aimed at the entrance only or at the sinks if it can be guaranteed no one can change the aim without a ladder and proper tools. The students and parents need to be notified exactly what the cameras can see what they can't see. If a camera is aimed at the restroom door and the time is automatically given, it can be documented who entered the restroom during a time period. Maintenance needs to check and verify in writing any vandalism every hour. Question all who entered the restroom since last check. At worst, the guilty teachers should have something in their professional file. Termination or suspention wihout pay is over the line for this professional, not legal, mistake. Some principals and non classroom teachers need to leave their ivory towers and help monitor the toilets. How about using mics? Need to have sign saying audio recording is on. Notify that to parents in writing.
  • by Steve Location: Jackson on Dec 13, 2009 at 04:40 AM
    It appears that maybe Molly spent too much time in the bathroom misbehaving instead of in the classroom learning. There is no "A" in the word "these". Just sayin'
  • by Sara Location: Lansing on Dec 2, 2009 at 12:38 PM
    Rather than threatening a spanking, why don't parents these days teach their child basic socials skills, such as respecting what is not yours, or being held accountable for their actions? As a teacher, I cannot begin to explain how many times I have had children interrupt, use bad lauguage, ruin school property, and in general act with no character at all. Then, when they get reprimanded or suspended, the parent comes to their defense because their child can do no wrong. Parents, realize that no child is perfect, and by teaching them to be accountable for their actions you are doing them a much bigger favor than defending them when they have made a mistake. They will enter the real world soon and will not have you at their job to defend them 24/7. Of course they're going to make mistakes, they're kids! But without being taught how to fix and deal with the mistakes, they're going to grow up with a false sense of perfection that will not be to their advantage in the future.
  • by Govtook rights away from parents Location: Mi on Nov 24, 2009 at 06:44 AM
    Well if kids can read and do read the news they now know the cameras aren't real.We can now see the later on effects of taking correction out of the homes or away from teachers.It did make many good paying jobs for many.Treating our out of hand kids.Courts,social workers,conceling,and so on.
  • by Jason Location: Jackson on Nov 23, 2009 at 04:24 PM
    How can you correct a child when just about any worth-while form of correction is considered child abuse these days?? Telling them "NO" or slapping them on the wrist doesn't cut it. As someone on here commented, they do think the world revolves around them. If you can't punish them, then they will continue to do as they wish. There is a line between punishment and abuse, but a lot of these kids need their heads knocked together...or on the other hand, keep putting up with it and cleaning up their crap.
  • by Anonymous on Nov 23, 2009 at 05:53 AM
    This goes down to the problem that some of these students do not have a good home life. When we start addressing that problem, other problems will disappear.
  • by Keith Location: Charlotte on Nov 22, 2009 at 03:53 PM
    I can't believe that there are individuals calling for the firing of teachers who at worst made a bad laws were broken, no ones privacy was invaded, and no funds were wasted as Bruce implied. The camera was not purchased for this purpose, it was one the school already owned. I don't think everyone "goes through the proper chanels" every time a decision has to be made and to fire someone for something that was a non-issue would be nonproductive (repeat offenders would be different). I wonder how Molly came to the conclusion that the teachers "do what they want to", based on one situation. And Miss Molly...if you are taking ownership of the children in these schools, maybe you could donate time and funds to police the bathrooms and clean the grafiti off the walls and truly make a difference, rather than just blasting the teachers. The students should be punished for their behavior, not the teachers. Remember, THE CAMERA WAS NOT RECORDING ANYTHING! Good luck teachers.
  • by Pam Location: Michigan on Nov 22, 2009 at 02:45 PM
    I am a teacher, so naturally this article caught my attention, especially the part about how the teachers should monitor the bathrooms. Well, we do, but we also have to monitor the halls and our own classrooms and heaven forbid, use the restroom ourselves. I could see how this could happen, well meaning teachers thinking a false camera would curtail the wrong doings. No law was broken people, lighten up. I think its an awesome idea. Please excuse any misspellings or grammatical errors by the way, I am a teacher, but I do make mistakes.
  • by parent Location: michigan on Nov 22, 2009 at 02:16 PM
    why not have parents monitor the is their children who are vandalizing it. the teachers have enough to do with trying to teach these vandals.
  • by MOLLY Location: JACKSON on Nov 20, 2009 at 08:25 PM
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