IMPERIAL BEACH, Calif. (KGTV) - Several teachers in the South Bay say a former employee planted a camera in a school restroom to record nude images of them.
“When I found out that I was on the recording … I was like, ‘No. Not Me,’” said Amy Filippini, a second grade teacher at Bayside STEAM Academy in Imperial Beach. "There was a still photo, and I asked the sheriff’s [deputy] if there was nudity and he said, ‘Yes. Unfortunately, there was nudity.’”
Filippini and others say that the school told them that the camera was discovered in late October.
According to a complaint filed with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing, "While seated inside a stall, a female Bayside teacher discovered that a hidden cell phone was recording her."
“Who knows what's on that phone. Who knows how long he's been doing this, what he's stored up and what he's done with those videos,” attorney Dan Gilleon told ABC 10News.
Gilleon, who is representing seven teachers, said that the teacher who found the phone immediately notified the principal, who contacted deputies.
Later that night, he added that the principal spoke to a male employee who, he said, admitted to using the phone for secret recordings. ABC 10News is not naming the employee because he has not been criminally charged.
“He violated us,” said Filippini.
“I was horrified,” added second grade teacher Tanya Knight.
Knight said that deputies did not identify nude images of her, but she told ABC 10News that she is still fearful since she has used that restroom for a long time. She said that she worries about whether any children used that restroom, too.
“We were just told that there was a confession, and that the employee was no longer going to be on campus,” added Knight.
She said that the principal told staff over Zoom about the incident the day after the discovery, but she and others claim that the South Bay Union School District did not do enough to prevent what happened or make sure that a similar situation doesn't happen in the future.
California law prohibits harassment and requires that employers take reasonable steps to prevent and correct wrongful harassment.
“It just so happens that the way that [the district] is not investigating this case is a very good sign of why it happened in the first place because [the district] simply doesn’t comply with the law as it applies to investigating claims of sexual harassment which is the primary way to prevent sexual harassment,” added Gilleon.
The district declined to do an interview but sent the following statement:
"South Bay Union School District takes employee safety and security very seriously and was shocked to learn of the allegations of employee misconduct. The district has fully cooperated with law enforcement in its investigation of this matter and is confident that appropriate charges will be filed. In order to protect the privacy rights of all individuals involved, the district is unable to comment further at this time."
A school spokesperson stated that he is no longer with the district.
The San Diego County Sheriff's Department stated that it's actively investigating and can't release any details.
Knight and others are worried about working around new employees and trying to feel comfortable again on campus.
“I don't want to have to trust or get to know anybody new,” added Knight.
“I need to know that [the district is] doing what [it] can to rectify this and make it safer because I don't feel safe using the restroom,” said Filippini.
Complaints have been filed with the state's Department of Fair Employment and Housing and a tort claim has been filed with the school district.