Parents sue school after hidden cameras catch students undressing

Associated Press | July 3, 2003

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Some Overton County parents have sued the school system, saying officials allowed security cameras to film children undressing in locker rooms and then stored the images on a computer accessible through the Internet.

The lawsuit filed last week in U.S. District Court in Nashville seeks $4.2 million in damages.

The parents contend the school system violated students' rights by putting hidden cameras in Livingston Middle School's boys and girls locker rooms. The cameras reportedly captured students, ages 10-14, in various stages of undress.

"The parents have been devastated by the conduct of the school officials, by the videotaping and by the breach of trust," attorney Mark Chalos, who represents the parents of 16 girls and one boy, told The Tennessean newspaper.

Chuck Cagle, lawyer for Overton County Schools, said he wouldn't comment because he hadn't read the lawsuit.

EduTech Inc., the company that installed the surveillance cameras in several Overton County schools also was named in the lawsuit. Officials with the Dyersburg-based company had no comment.

Parents learned of the cameras when a student reported a suspicious device in the school at Livingston, about 80 miles east of Nashville.

The lawsuit contends that images captured by the cameras were stored on a hard drive in the office of assistant principal Robert Jolley and could be accessed from remote computers by the Internet. It claims the computer's password security had not been changed from the factory default setting.

The images were reportedly accessed 98 times between July 2002 and January 2003 - sometimes late at night and early in the morning - and through Internet providers in Clarksville and Gainesboro and in Rock Hill, S.C.

William Needham, director of Overton County Schools, said Jolley has been transferred to another school in the system.

Chalos said he doesn't know if the cameras are still operating.

"We think there were lots and lots of people photographed who may not know it yet," Chalos said.