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Windsor Charter Academy places security cameras in new high school restrooms

Posted at 11:58 PM, Nov 03, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-04 09:45:49-04

WINDSOR, Colo. -- When you walk into a restroom, a camera might be one of the last things you'd expect to see.

So imagine the surprise when students at Windsor Charter Academy noticed cameras had recently been placed in restrooms in the new high school wing.

"It's just a general invasion of privacy," said high school junior, Tyler Stesen. "I don't feel they're necessary."

When asked if he was aware of any "inappropriate activity" occurring in the restrooms, he replied, "The reason given was to prevent 'vaping,' those electronic cigarettes."

He added that he wasn't aware those cigarettes were being used much.

The head of the school, Rebecca Teeples, told Denver7 that the cameras are a proactive, not reactive measure geared toward student safety.

She said the cameras are aimed at the sink areas, which are separate from the water closets.  She noted that the water closets have floor to ceiling walls, and doors, for privacy.

One parent, who didn't want to be identified, said she agreed wholeheartedly with the decision to place cameras in the restrooms.

"It's for safety," she said, mentioning a previous incident involving "a hit list."

Another parent told Denver7 she too is okay with cameras.

"If you're doing something that you don't want on camera, don't be doing it," she said.

Still another parent, Trevor Garrett, said he understands the concerns, but doesn't think cameras are the answer.

"I agree that Windsor Charter Academy can up its security," he said, "I agree 100 percent, but the fact is, it's not achieved by putting cameras in bathrooms."

Garrett said he has a daughter who attends the high school and added that, sometimes, students change clothes in the restrooms.

"There is no expectation of privacy in a hallway," he said, "there is in a restroom."

Garrett quoted Ben Franklin, "Those who would give up essential Liberty to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."

Talk of the town

It's not just parents of students who attend the school who are talking about it, so are many people in the wider community.

"I'm thinking back to when I was in school," said Daina Knutson. "I wouldn't want them in the bathroom, that's (taking things) a little too far."

Teeples said she's glad to see people voicing concerns.

"I welcome the questions. I welcome future discussion," she said, "and being able to show them why, and help them understand our intentions and our commitment toward student safety."

Teeples said some schools and businesses have sinks outside their restrooms, in public areas.  She said the setup at Windsor Charter Academy isn't that much different, that the sink area is more of a public area.

She also said she anticipates other schools will follow suit.

District reaction

Some parents question why the Weld RE-4 School District doesn't step into the fray.

In Colorado, charter schools have more autonomy than traditional schools.

The School District posted this message on its website:  "While the Weld RE-4 School District is the charter authorizer for Windsor Charter Academy schools, our District does not oversee their facilities.  They operate independently and make their own decisions related to safety and security measures.  Installing cameras in restroom facilities is not a practice that we follow in any of our traditional Weld RE-4 schools."