Report recommends firing Madison East staff involved in hidden camera situation

East High School
File photo

MADISON, Wis. — A report from a law firm hired by the Madison Metropolitan School District to conduct an internal investigation into employees who placed hidden cameras in an East High School coach’s office recommended firing the district staff involved in their installation.

The news comes after an investigation by the Madison Police Department revealed there was no criminal wrongdoing in the incident. After the MPD shared their findings, the district launched an internal investigation led by a third party team, MWH Law Group LLP.

MMSD Superintendent Dr. Carlton Jenkins shared the findings of the report in a letter sent to East High School parents earlier this week.

“Based on the totality of findings in both the MPD investigation and the third party internal investigation, MWH recommended disciplinary action up to and including termination of employees directly involved in the installation of these concealed cameras,” the letter reads. “Our district takes these violations of policy very seriously and is closely considering all MWH recommendations.”

A security assistant for the school initially found a hidden camera in a coach’s office in early January. An initial investigation later revealed the cameras were installed to keep tabs on a custodian East High staff suspected of sleeping on the job during night shifts.

Dr. Jenkins said in a statement when the news first broke that the cameras were “angled in such a way to only capture the specified furniture and not capture any individuals in immediate proximity.” The cameras were disabled after two weeks of monitoring. The footage reportedly didn’t yield any results.

The district also hired a third-party company, Omni Technologies LLC, to do a sweep of the high school for any other hidden cameras. They did not find any additional devices.

“We recognize the stress this has caused many of you, and we hope this communication offers our East families some closure,” Dr. Jenkins wrote.

After MPD’s criminal investigation came to an end, a group of nearly 50 parents gathered at the Wisconsin State Capitol to protest the district’s handling of the situation.

“Nobody knew that was there,” said Anna Hauser, whose 15-year-old son attends Madison East and uses the space frequently.  “It was not being disclosed. That’s hurting people.”

Read the letter in full below:

We are communicating with you today to provide an update on our internal investigation into the temporary installation of concealed cameras at East High school in September 2019.

As mentioned in my previous communication on February 24, 2021, at the conclusion of the Madison Police Department (MPD) investigation, MMSD launched its own comprehensive internal investigation by securing the services of an external third party investigative team, MWH Law Group LLP. The internal investigation into this matter has now concluded, and MWH investigators have provided the district with its final report.

The MWH investigation found the camera installation request and approval was for the purpose of monitoring a third-shift employee’s work habits. This installation, which violated district policy 6702, resulted in one camera being placed in the Coach’s office aimed at a couch, and another camera being aimed in Room 127 at a cot. Access to video footage from the two cameras was limited to a few select District employees with those staff only viewing footage during third-shift hours (10:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m.). MWH found both cameras were permanently deactivated three to ten days after being installed.

Based on the totality of findings in both the MPD investigation and the third party internal investigation, MWH recommended disciplinary action up to and including termination of employees directly involved in the installation of these concealed cameras. Our district takes these violations of policy very seriously and is closely considering all MWH recommendations.

Additionally, to ensure there were no other concealed devices located in East High School, our district hired a third-party, Omni Technologies LLC, to conduct a thorough inspection of the facility. No additional devices were found during their inspection.

During this investigation, our district gained a greater understanding of the corrective steps needed to minimize the potential for future similar incidents. We recognize the stress this has caused many of you, and we hope this communication offers our East families some closure. We care deeply for every East student, and will continue to support you as we move forward towards making our school community whole. You can expect to receive additional information from Principal Brendan Kearney, on how to access support.

Thanks for your understanding and patience throughout this process.

Sincerely,

Carlton
D. Jenkins, Ph.D.

Superintendent, Madison Metropolitan School District