Parents Fume Over Locker Room Cam

Locker Rooms, Lockers, Privacy, Surveillance Camera, Cam
CBS/AP
Middle school parents in a Tennessee community are angry over what they say is an invasion of their children's privacy.

A Tennessee middle school allowed security cameras to film students undressing in locker rooms and then stored the images on a computer accessible through the Internet, according to a lawsuit filed by a group of angry parents.

The lawsuit filed last week in federal court in Nashville seeks $4.2 million in damages.

The students were caught on tape while they were undressing for a basketball game in the visitor's locker room at Livingston Middle School.

"We have not gotten a suitable response from the school board as to why there was a camera," said attorney Mark Chalos on CBS News' Early Show. "In our opinion, no one has the right to photograph elementary school children getting undressed in their locker rooms."

The cameras reportedly captured students, ages 10-14, in various stages of undress.

The parents contend the school system violated students' rights by putting hidden cameras in boys and girls locker rooms at Allons Middle School.

"I was terribly shocked, hurt, angry that the proper steps weren't taken to prevent something like this from happening, and expose it like this," said Michelle Meadows, mother of one of the girls, on The Early Show.

Her daughter is "embarrassed and worried about who has seen this. She's aware that it has been over the Internet," she added.

"I put my trust into the school system, and they have breached that trust," declared Melinda Dishman.

EduTech Inc., the company that installed the surveillance cameras in several Overton County schools also was named in the lawsuit on behalf of 16 girls and one boy. Officials with the 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 the assistant principal 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 Tennessee and South Carolina.

Chalos told CBS News that what happened may not have been criminal, but "their policies and their conduct were absolutely reckless and it showed a gross indifference to the rights of these children."

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

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