Local parents on edge after man caught filming elementary school
MAPLE VALLEY, Wash. -- Elementary school parents are fighting fire with fire after spotting a man taking video in front of their school.
The man refused to say why he was filming, but parents used Facebook to get to the bottom of the odd situation.
With 1,100 students, Lake Wilderness Elementary in Maple Valley is the state's largest elementary school. There are a lot of eyes keeping watch over the kids, so when someone is taking video of the school everyday, parents want to know why.
Cari Korpi took her own video of the man Tuesday when she and other parents got suspicious.
"It caught my eye that somebody was out here video taping the activity of the school," said Korpi.
On her video confrontation, Korpi asks the man why he's been at the school nearly every day for a month.
"It's none of your business," the man says.
That response set off a fire storm on Facebook after the video was posted by Korpi's friend Cheryl Palmquist.
"The first thing that came to mind when i saw it was Sandy Hook," said Palmquist. "And I thought, I don't want to see anything like that happen to our school. We have to share this and get the word out there."
The video went viral with comments: "Scary. Makes me want to go camp out there," one commenter said.
"Be SAFE! I really do not want my child video taped and am thankful someone noticed him though. HOW scary is that," said another.
The Tahoma school district identified the man in the video as Dustin Girten. He's actually a parent at that school with two kids in attendance. But he's prohibited from going on school grounds after he swore at staff. The district said he was angered by the traffic and bus congestion during drop-off and pick-up at school.
"We've told parents we're aware of this gentleman," said Kevin Patterson of the Tahoma School District. "We don't think he poses a threat to the students or staff or parents."
But his silence troubles parents.
"Why are you out here doing that? Because it's a huge concern for me and my kids' safety at this school if you're going to be out there filming the children," Korpi said on her video.
"He's not doing anything wrong," said King County Sheriff's Sgt Cindy West. "It's the same as you. He has the right to be on public property and film if he wants to."
He did not show up at school today. The parents vow to keep up their surveillance of him.
On Wednesday night school administrators and police addressed the concerns. They reiterated that they are aware of the situation and will continue to monitor it. But they also reminded parents that the parent who was videotaping had not broken any laws while recording on public space.
"I'm not totally satisfied that there was a resolution to the issue, but I do feel better that they're on top of it and that they were at least available to answer our questions. I guess it's just the unknown of what he's going to do next. That's what scares me the most," said parent Brandy Rowland.