Friday, April 13, 2007

Extracurricular DVD forces resignation of "old school" principal

I checked my Sitemeter traffic this morning and found several searches which included the words "sex scandal."

That's not the kind of thing I tend to write about here. So I followed the links to find out why searches of this kind were identifying something I'd written. I eventually wound up at this post of mine, from January 11 -- which I remembered as recounting my feeble -- and ultimately ineffectual -- efforts to keep my daughters from dyeing their hair.

But that lament was triggered by Stefano Esposito's article in that morning's Chicago Sun-Times. I set out the entire article to make a point (OK, to try to make a point) about how to interpret newspaper articles.

The article concerned an elementary school principal, Leroy Coleman, who sent a seventh grade girl home when she showed up at school with "cranberry-red streaks in her hair." Instead of helping her daughter to wash out the dye, the girl's mother called the newspaper.

Principal Coleman was portrayed in the article as "old school" -- and disapproving of "kids holding hands in the hallways or 'romancing.'" Esposito quoted Coleman as saying he didn't want "any romancing going on."

Apparently, however, Mr. Coleman did not follow his own rules: According to William Lee's story in today's Daily Southtown, Coleman's "dalliances with a teacher in the principal's office -- perhaps once during school hours -- were caught on a secret video, outraging parents and forcing the principal's resignation."

Lee reports, "The camera that captured the scenes appeared to have been hidden without Coleman’s knowledge." The linked news article does not report whether sound as well as video images were captured.

Strange as this must seem to most of you, whether there is sound on the DVD may bear directly on the question of whether the person who planted the camera is -- or is not -- criminally liable.

Section 26-4 of the Illinois Criminal Code (720 ILCS 5/26-4) specifies when a person will be criminally liable for making an unauthorized video: Not surprisingly, taking a video of someone in their own home, hotel room, restroom, tanning salon, or locker room without that person's consent is prohibited. Taking a video "of another person under or through the clothing worn by that other person for the purpose of viewing the body of or the undergarments worn by that other person without that person's consent" is also a criminal offense. But I could not find anything in the statutes about sneaking a camera into the office of a controversial school principal... except that §26-4(c) makes clear that the provisions of this statute do not trump those of the Illinois Eavesdropping Act, 720 ILCS 5/14-1 et seq., which imposes very strong restrictions, and penalties, on unauthorized sound recordings.

I realize that this distinction will seem unimportant to most of the people who stop by here. But, as I followed the links this morning, I just had to look the statutes up. And, as long as I went to the trouble, I thought I'd try and explain all this, too.


Dave said...

You do have it bad. In Georgia the statute on maintaining a "house of ill repute" refers to a "fixed" establishment. I am therefore convinced that you can't get busted for driving an RV around I-285 and using the back for, well, you know. Though those doing you know, can be arrested.

Jean-Luc Picard said...

I get some weird searches that tend to drop on my site...a lot to do with Jeri Ryan!

Lahdeedah said...

I hope it's illegal.

Mind you, I'm not for using school grounds as a rompfest, but I'm more concerned with the clear and obvious intent to capture something controversial and then mailing it out to oh, all the parents....

So if a teacher or principal annoys a parent, they get to spy on them? Yeesh... what is this world coming to, I say.

Anonymous said...

Why assume that someone was taping Coleman. Maybe Coleman was taping his own conquests, and showed them to the wrong person.