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Spy Games: Update

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A few weeks back, we highlighted a story about a very tense situation at Cascade High School in Everett, Wash., where teachers were raising concerns that district administrators had planted a surveillance camera in the classroom of a teacher who was later fired, allegedly for helping students publish an underground newspaper. At the time, an attorney for the district denied the allegations.

Now, however, the district has publicly acknowledged that it did, in fact, use a video camera to secretly monitor journalism teacher Kay Powers’ classroom. District officials say they do not believe the practice was unlawful and that they were primarily trying to protect students. The whereabouts of the video are reportedly not known.

The local teachers union, which has expressed outrage at the districts actions, plans to file a complaint that the district violated employees’ rights and fair labor practices.

Ed. note: A reader who has taught in Everett first tipped us off to the new developments and offered a personal reaction:

As a former substitute teacher for the Everett School District, and a three-time guest teacher in Kay Powers' classroom, this coming-to-light of the district's intrusion into the privacy of not only Kay Powers, but her students (and potentially myself) is unconscionable. And that the district is now framing this argument under the rubric of the students' personal safety is reprehensible and legal posturing. How is spying on Ms. Powers and her students ensuring their safety?Ensure this tactic is met with the utmost in logical resistance.
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I am not surprised by the reaction of the board or the school administration. I was a middle school Special Ed. teacher in N.O. La and had a principal who listened to my class activities over the intercom. I was not the only teacher, every special ed. teacher was being monitored, not because we were conducting questionable practaces, but because we were a well organized group she had very little control over. Our group was often noticed by the district's Exceptional Children's Services Department for the excellent work our students produced. In this case the "spying" was in hope of finding something to counter or taint our strong support. After my situation and reading of other spying practices being done, I believe, It is very seldom about student safety. It is usually more about personel objections or a vendetta.

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