VANCOUVER, Wash. -- The Clark County Sheriff's Office is investigating a male student at Skyview High School after he was accused of using a cellphone to snap a picture up a teacher's dress during class.
Sgt. Fred Neiman, a spokesman at the Clark County Sheriff's Office, said Skyview's school resource officer is investigating the incident for voyeurism and will likely pass the case on to a juvenile county prosecutor but, as of Monday, said no one has been arrested or charged.
The spokesman said more than one male student was involved but that the focus on the case was on the teen who took the picture. Neither the sheriff's office nor the district would release the name or age of the student in question.
It's unclear when the incident took place but Vancouver Public Schools filed the report with the sheriff's office about the alleged violation March 18. Neiman said the teacher wasn't aware a student snapped a picture until a later time.
The On Your Side Investigators confirmed the investigation Monday after a concerned mother contacted KATU when she learned about the allegations. The mom said her daughter was in the same classroom as the boy suspected of taking the picture. She did not want to be identified for fear that her daughter would be retaliated against.
The mom said her daughter, who is a freshman, witnessed the male student approach the teacher while her back was turned to the class and said the boy slid the cellphone underneath the teacher's dress and took a photo.
"That's probably the most inappropriate thing I've heard of," said Skyview High School student Kelsii Dolim.
Students who saw the incident reported it immediately to school administration and the district is not aware of any postings of the picture online, according to district spokeswoman Pat Mattison.
Despite several requests for Mattison to comment on camera, she refused. Skyview's principal, Kym Tyelyn-Carlson, also declined to comment.
Instead, Mattison sent the On Your Side Investigators an email statement saying the district conducted a full investigation, "appropriate discipline was imposed", and said there were no other reported incidents of 'upskirting'. Mattison admitted she had not heard of the incident until KATU called the district.
"The district takes all reports of such incidents very seriously," Mattison wrote in her email.
Mattison would not elaborate on the details surrounding the student's discipline, citing federal laws. The concerned mom who contacted KATU said the student in question was back in class the next day; however, Mattison did not immediately know if the student was back at school or would be allowed to have a cellphone in class.
For whatever reason the district did not send a letter home to students or parents to inform them that law enforcement was actively investigating to find out if a crime was committed on campus. Mattison did not respond to questions about that issue.
Of all the students KATU spoke with Monday, none had heard of the incident. Neither did a woman who identified herself as a teacher at Skyview High.
"That kind of shocks me that somebody would do that," Tyler Phares said, a senior at Skyview High School. "That's just kind of not right."
The On Your Side Investigators also reached out to the teacher's union, the Vancouver Education Association, for comment. An employee confirmed they'd been made aware of the incident but referred questions to the union's executive director. He did not immediately return calls.
Cellphone policy at Vancouver Public Schools
"As a parent, I hope the school cracks down on this behavior," the concerned mom told KATU about the use of cellphones in school.
The On Your Side Investigators obtained a copy of the student handbook surrounding technology and cellphones at Vancouver Public Schools. Cellphones are allowed in class when used for instructional purposes, and Mattison said students sign for the handbook at the beginning of the year, indicating they've reviewed and understand the contents.
Pages 24-26 pertain specifically to the use of cellphones.
"Inappropriate use of technology is not allowed," Mattison said, but did not offer any examples.
"There are district policies and guidelines that are followed, reports of inappropriate behavior are investigated and, if warranted, appropriate discipline is taken."
Excerpt from the Student Handbook:
- I am responsible for making good choices about when and where I use personal devices at school.
- I will respect the guidance of my teachers and school staff as to when and where I use personal computing devices at school. I understand that there are times when using devices will be an option and other times that the devices will have to be stowed away. If I don't make these choices, I understand that the following things may happen.
First step: If I cause a disruption or have my device out at an inappropriate time, I may be asked to put it away. At this time, I am required to put away whatever devices have caused the problem. If I don't, the following will happen
Second step: If I take the device out again or refuse to put it away, my teacher or staff member may take it away for the remainder of the school day. This means I will not have my device(s) for the remainder of the day, not just one period.
Third step: If I continue to cause disruptions or fail to honor this contract, I may be subject to other disciplinary actions.
Other cases of upskirting
The On Your Side Investigators uncovered a similar case of upskirting in December when a man took pictures up a teen girl's dress while Christmas shopping at the holiday bazaar in Portland's expo center. The suspect was arrested but the district attorney originally dismissed the case since there was no state law specifically tailored to video voyeurism.
The suspect was later charged with attempted invasion of personal privacy, a misdemeanor.