8.21.2020

Teacher Spying on Student During Virtual Class Sends Cops to Search 11-Year-Old's Home After Spotting a BB Gun

https://pjmedia.com/news-and-politics/paula-bolyard/2020/06/11/teacher-spying-on-student-during-virtual-class-sends-cops-to-search-11-year-olds-home-after-spotting-a-bb-gun-n518679

 

The boy’s mother, Courtney Lancaster Sperry, a Navy veteran, is warning other parents about a lack of privacy during virtual classes after her son was targeted by a teacher who saw what she thought was a scary-looking gun hanging on the wall of the boy’s bedroom.

“While my son was on a Zoom call, a ‘concerned parent’ and subsequently two teachers saw his properly stowed and mounted Red Ryder BB gun and one other BB gun in the background,” Sperry wrote on Facebook. “He was not holding them and never intentionally showed them on video. In fact, he was oblivious that they could even be seen in the background.”

After the teacher reported the gun, the principal, Jason Feiler, decided to call the police to report the guns and ask that the home be searched.

The principal and the teacher cited a rule stating that students may not bring guns to school and claimed it extended to virtual classes as well, Sperry said, adding that the school handbook does not address rules for virtual learning at all. Besides, “he did not BRING anything to this meeting and he is in his own home,” she said. “They were simply in the background in our home, safely stowed in a room behind a closed door, with no ammunition (if you can even call it that).”

Sperry told PJ Media that the school’s vice-principal called her ex-husband, claiming to be checking on network connectivity. She believes the real reason for the call was to find out whose home her son was at. The vice-principal “ended the call without leveraging the opportunity to discuss the matter and rather was fishing for information to find out where to dispatch police,” she said. 

Sperry asked the principal why the issue couldn’t have been handled privately by phone rather than sending the police. “He said that was not their policy,” she said.

“The officers were more than nice,” she wrote, “and though they did not have a warrant, I have always been taught to not only comply, but had nothing to hide and allowed them to look wherever they wanted to.”

“I felt violated as a parent, for my child, who’s standing there with police officers in his room, just to see the fear on his face,” she added.


According to Sperry, the spy teacher took a screenshot of the boy’s bedroom, which is incredibly creepy and a violation of the family’s privacy. When the mother demanded to see the screenshot taken by the creeper-teacher, she was told she would not be allowed to view it because it wasn’t part of his official school record.

“It’s absolutely scary to think about,” Sperry said. “Who are on these calls? Who do we have viewing [our] children and subsequently taking these screenshots that can be sent anywhere or used for any purpose?”


This incident raises some serious questions about privacy related to virtual learning. Teachers (and perhaps others who might be watching) are granted access to children’s homes and even their bedrooms. It appears from this incident that there were no rules in place preventing the teacher from taking pictures of his bedroom. How many students has this teacher spied on? How many screenshots has she taken of them during virtual classes? Has she amassed a database of her students’ home situations?

“I have explained to my son that he did nothing wrong,” Sperry said. “He said, ‘I’m just sad because I thought the teachers were my friends.'”

The school refused to comment on the specific case but told Fox Baltimore, “There are multiple ways for families to share concerns with us. In general terms, the safety of students and staff is our chief concern, whether we are meeting in classrooms or via continuity of learning.”

“So, what are the parameters? Where are the lines drawn?” Sperry wants to know. “If my son is sitting at the kitchen island next to a butcher block, does that constitute a weapon? It’s not allowed at school, right? So, would my home then be searched because he’s sitting next to a butcher block? I feel like parents need to be made aware of what the implications are, what the expectations are.”