Johnson Co. prosecutor sent case file on high school student accused of taking inappropriate photos, videos of classmates

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SHAWNEE, Kan. -- Police are investigating following teenage girls’ claims they were caught on camera without their knowledge or permission.

Shawnee police investigated one of their male classmates at Mill Valley High School in the De Soto School District for a possible privacy breach.

On Thursday, Dan Tennis, Shawnee Police, said they forwarded their case to the Johnson County prosecutor on Wednesday night.  He said the student apparently looked under the skirts of 'numerous female students.' Tennis also said 'there's no mistake about it.' They believe it was an intentional act.

Major Tennis said the boy took the cell phone video and pictures in several public areas including hallways, stairwells, libraries and during passing periods.

Students at the high school and their parents agree that the news of a teenage boy taking cell phone technology too far has caused some concern.

Families received an email on Tuesday from Mill Valley High’s principal. It says a student, using a cell phone, took photos and videos of female students in public places while at school.

The concerning part?

The girls had no idea and didn’t give their permission.

School officials soon turned the investigation over to Shawnee police – who say the student behind the camera is a 17-year-old boy who was caught with his phone in a quote “odd location,” which raised concern among students and parents.

“It just kind of creeps me out because it just, when you’re walking down the hall, you don’t expect people to take a video or picture of you. You usually do that with your friends, with their consent and everything, so the fact that someone was videotaping girls just kind of puts me on the edge,” said sophomore Maci Montee.

"I’m scared that I could be on the video, that’s a little nerve-racking because I’m uncomfortable with that. I don’t want somebody taking a video or picture of me when I don’t know, especially when it could be an inappropriate picture or something," she continued.

The principal says police found a number of videos on the same boy’s phone that are considered a breach of privacy because they are in close proximity to the point it invades the personal privacy of students.

“It absolutely would bother me, definitely. I know some parents handle things in a different way, but again, the best response and the best way to do it is to actually have the authorities take care of it, so I’m confident that they’ll make the right decision,” said dad Robert King.

"It kind of makes me uncomfortable knowing that someone is taking a video of girls without their knowledge," his daughter Hannah said.

School officials say in the very least, this situation represents an inappropriate use of an electronic device and it violates their expectations of safe school environment.

They are now encouraging other students who think they might be a victim to report it. Here's the full email that was sent to parents:

Dear Parents and Guardians:

I am writing to keep you informed about a student issue at Mill Valley High School. On Monday, May 2, I was alerted that a student, using a mobile phone, attempted to take photos and/or videos of female students in public spaces while at school and without the students’ knowledge or permission. Based on our immediate and initial investigation, we turned the matter over to the Shawnee Police Department.

On Tuesday, May 3, police informed us they found a number of videos on the mobile phone that are considered a breach of privacy. They indicate the videos are of close proximity to the point it invades the personal privacy of students. The incidents appear to be of female students in public areas at school, on school property, and/or during school activities.

This matter is under investigation by law enforcement. At the very least, it represents an inappropriate use of an electronic device in violation of our expectations for a safe school environment. Based on our investigation and other evidence, MVHS administration is taking swift and appropriate disciplinary action in order to protect all students.

Mobile devices are a significant part of our society and can be useful learning tools in a controlled learning environment. However, MVHS will not tolerate misuse of devices while at school, on school property, or at school-related activities. That is why I am asking for your help. If your child believes he/she witnessed inappropriate use of electronic devices at school, or believes they may be a victim in such a matter, please contact any member of our administrative staff, School Resource Officer or me. In addition, I ask you to please visit with your child and remind them about the proper use of their personal mobile devices while at school or in public.

I encourage you to contact me with any questions you may have about this concern. We will keep you advised if further information warrants communication.

Sincerely and respectfully,
Tobie Waldeck, Principal

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