SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

April 11, 2011

Salem students secretly recorded teachers

SALEM — The voices of classroom teachers have been secretly recorded by students who, in at least one instance, may have been following the orders of a parent, city officials said.

School Superintendent William Cameron raised the issue of hidden audio recordings at a School Committee meeting this week.

"We became aware of two instances in the last month, and it seemed to be highly unusual the first time and very troubling when it happened again," he said.

Cameron said there appears to be no connection between the two incidents.

Although the school boss declined to identify the schools or students, or say why the teachers were being recorded and if parents were involved, other city officials said one incident took place recently at an elementary school.

"I've heard, in at least one instance, of a parent encouraging a student to audio record the classroom while the teacher was instructing," said School Committee member Kevin Carr

Police Chief Paul Tucker, who said he was briefed on the issue but is not investigating it, gave a similar version of events.

"My understanding is it's very young children doing it possibly at the behest of parents," he said.

Joyce Harrington, president of the Salem Teachers Union, said she was informed of an incident last week at a grade school.

"What I was led to understand is that there was apparently a parent who went to the principal with some sort of a recording," she said. "... And after a few seconds, when the principal apparently understood what it was, he said, 'I think this is an invasion of privacy.' I don't know what he said ... (but it was) something to that effect."

Harrington stressed that she does not have direct knowledge of the facts, but spoke with a staff member at the school where the most recent incident allegedly took place.

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