The sad fact of the matter is that these days, hidden cameras are all too common in many of normal places we visit throughout our daily lives. This goes far beyond cameras hidden in retail stores in an effort to combat shoplifters. As hidden cameras become more affordable to everyday people, spying becomes incredibly common – as the many cameras that have been found in changing rooms, public bathrooms and similar intimate areas are a prime example of. There are even entire websites dedicated to the distribution of footage that was illegally obtained through these and other morally questionable means.
But, if you had to make a list of all the places where you would likely find one of these surveillance devices, a child’s classroom probably won’t make it near the top – if it found its way onto the list at all. Yet this is exactly what happened in the Ashtonfield Public School District after secret cameras were discovered in an incredibly unsettling place – a kindergarten classroom.
The Ashtonfield Public School System: What You Need to Know
Earlier in 2017, two cameras were discovered inside an Ashtonfield kindergarten classroom – one concealed inside a clock on a teacher’s desk and another hidden inside a game elsewhere in the room. The classroom’s primary teacher, Mrs. Shaunessy, is reported to have been aware of these cameras – though it is unclear if she was the one who placed them herself.
What makes this interesting (and frightening), however, has to do with how the cameras were discovered. One day when Mrs. Shaunessy was absent, the substitute teacher noticed the camera hidden inside the clock as it was located directly on the teacher’s desk and pointed outward toward the room. This substitute made a comment to some of the other faculty at the Ashtonfield school and, upon further examination, the second camera was discovered.
As one might expect, parents in the community were outraged as soon as this information was made public. Many took to social media to voice their concerns and school administrators, including Principal Deb Healey, have been inundated with phone calls as a result.
Also interesting is the school’s explanation for the cameras. Their official statement says, in part, that the cameras were placed “in plain sight” in a classroom as part of a response to an ongoing police matter. Police in the area had been investigating a series of incidents dating back to November of 2016 that had to do with the harassment and general intimidation of a staff member. To be completely fair, both school officials and local law enforcement representatives have indicated that the children are NOT, nor have they ever been, in danger because of these cameras. Naturally, this has done little to calm down any upset parents.
Some parents are concerned as their children are under “Family Court” or other orders to NOT be photographed or filmed. Others are furious at the confusion and general lack of communication – if these cameras were hidden “in plain sight,” why were they hidden cameras at all? Why were they concealed inside a desk clock? Why was there not some sort of official notification that went out?
CCTV cameras and other types of monitoring equipment CAN and often DO support a safe educational environment, but it’s safe to say that the way the Ashtonfield school has handled this matter thus far leaves a lot to be desired. This also serves to underline an important point for parents everywhere: You truly never know who might be watching your kids, even when you least suspect it. Was this truly an isolated incident created in part due to an ongoing police investigation as officials claim? Or is it an ominous sign of what is to come – something far more sinister than we may yet realize? The answers to these and other important questions, unfortunately, remain to be seen.