Tuesday, May 27, 2008

don't smile--you're on candid camera

I remember reading about the Everett EA's accusation that Cascade High School officials had been secretly videotaping a journalism teacher with a crudely hidden camera, and thinking, It's so crazy it just might be true.

It was true.

"Deputy Superintendent Brandsma authorized video monitoring from the hallway looking at the door to Kay Powers' classroom to determine if students were frequenting her classroom late at night or on weekends in violation of school policies and the district directives to Kay Powers," the report said.

Powers and her students were banned from using district equipment to publish an alternative newspaper. Powers' firing followed the district's discovery that a student had used a classroom computer to copy files from an e-mail account to his personal laptop for use in an alternative student newspaper.

It was unclear whether Brandsma would be disciplined; he could not be reached for comment on Friday.

The hidden camera was supposed to be in the hallway outside of the classroom, but the company hired to install it placed it on the ceiling inside Powers' room, according to the report. The camera was directed at the classroom door, the report said.

A video showing individuals from the waist up coming and going from the classroom was delivered to Brandsma. But now the video's "current whereabouts are unknown," the report said.

Patterson also concluded that there is "no evidence that any audio recordings were made."

Whitehead said she never saw the video recording and it played no role in her decision to fire Powers.

"My determination to terminate the employment was not retaliation. It was not an attempt to interfere with her free speech rights, and it was not based on any information seen or heard from any form of video or audio surveillance," she said.

Union leaders said they are glad the district now admits the camera was used.

"It does prove what we have been saying all along, that the district ... had practiced surveillance," said Kim Mead, president of the Everett Education Association. "I just find it so disappointing that they believe it is OK to treat employees in this manner."
So disappointing? How about "outrageous," "stupid," or "so tragic it's positively Shakespearean?"

1 comment:

Jason said...

I've begun an online petition to ask the Everett School District Board of Directors to launch an inquiry into the matter, hopefully either in accordance with or in advance of the state commission that Everett Education Association's President Kim Mead has called for. I will keep the Board of Directions and any relevant parties abreast of the signatures collected in due time.

*** SIGN THE PETITION HERE: http://www.petitiononline.com/esd_bod/petition.html ***

Thank you for posting this remarkable story.