Flexer Law - Nashville Legal News

Metro Teacher Accused of Video Surveillance – Questions That Should be Asked (and Answered)

Many of you will recall that, in September, a former teacher at Napier Elementary School in Davidson County was arrested for videotaping elementary school children secretly as they changed clothes at the elementary school.  A colleague noticed questionable material on the teacher’s computer and notified the authorities.  The teacher instructed young girls participating in school plays and choir performances to change in a music room closet where a hidden camera had been set up.

After such an incident, parents probably have a number of questions they would like to have answered from the Metro School officials.

  • When the teacher was hired, what tasks were performed in checking the teacher’s background? Certainly one would think there was a complete background check including fingerprints that were run through the TBI and the FBI.
  • What is Metro’s written policy with respect to videotaping children’s activities while at school and how strictly were these policies enforced?
  • Was the computer owned by the Metro Public Schools or was it owned by the teacher? If owned by the teacher, what limitations are placed on a teacher’s use of his/her own equipment at school?
  • What written policies are put in place with respect to teachers using their own equipment at school?
  • What written policies are put in place with respect to how Metro School officials review their own computer equipment for violations which may occur while used by teachers?
  • What written policies were in effect with respect to a proper location for children to change clothes at school?
  • What other written policies were in effect that the accused teacher violated?

There are certainly other questions that could – and should – be asked and answered by Nashville Metro Schools authorities.

Some of you may recall a video surveillance incident in Overton County Public Schools between the years of 2002-2003.  The facts in these incidences were different from this case.  The principle of videotaping someone without their consent has not changed, however.  Incidents such as these cause embarrassment and humiliation.  The Sixth Circuit Court of the United States in the Overton County case stated the following:

“Video surveillance is inherently intrusive.  As one authority has put it, the video camera ‘sees all and forgets nothing.’”

What the teacher did in this instance is certainly criminal.  What about the Metro Schools’ knowledge with respect to what this teacher was doing at school and how are teachers held accountable for their actions when children are in their care?  This was, hopefully, an isolated incident.  Metro teachers serve a very vital role in our community and are to be praised for the work that they do.  But teachers and staff members should always be held accountable for their actions during time they spend with the students in their care.  The questions in this case need to be answered and the parents need to hear the truth.  These incidents are inexcusable and our schools need to address them now so that this never happens again.