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Toilet spy cam: Tauranga high school latest to watch students in bathrooms

A Bay of Plenty college is the latest secondary school to spark concerns over security cameras in student toilets.

A mum of two girls at the school was appalled to discover Otumoetai College had installed spy cameras inside student toilets.

The woman, who does not want to be named, has told the school her daughters will not be using the toilets until they are taken down.

She claims the spherical cameras are high on bathroom walls, capturing vision from inside the cubicles.

But the school says the cameras are only in the public areas of the toilets to ensure the individual safety and security of its students.

The woman said she thought her daughter was mistaken when she said the school had placed cameras inside the bathrooms.

It took a photo to convince her they were real and her daughter wasn’t making up the story.

“I really thought my girl had got it wrong when she told me there were cameras in the girls’ toilets.

“I honestly didn’t think schools could do that. And we hadn’t been told.”

After seeing photographic proof of the spy camera, she contacted a dean at the school to raise concerns but claims she was told “not to be ridiculous” and “that’s not what we do”.

However, the principal confirmed to the horrified mum that cameras were installed throughout the school last year after a decision by the board of trustees.

She was told they were meant to counter a graffiti problem in the bathrooms and only two people had access to the footage: himself and the person in charge of IT.

The principal tried to reassure the mother the pupils’ privacy was not at stake with vision down into the cubicles blacked out, she said.

“I don’t want to even think of my daughter using the toilet and someone being able to watch her.

“That’s just disgusting.

“I told the school my daughters will not be using the toilets, ever,” she said.

“It’s completely inappropriate that they’ve done it,” she said.

She believed parents should have been notified.

Other parents she had contacted were also outraged.

But Otumoetai College principal Russell Gordon told the Herald the cameras had been installed for about 20 months and only showed the wash bay areas and did not capture any vision inside cubicles.

“The reason for these cameras are to ensure the individual safety and security of our students,” he said.

Prominent notices indicated the presence of cameras in the toilets and the school had clear policy guidelines about storage and access to the information collected.

Gordon said he had only received one complaint from a parent concerned about the placement of a camera, but it only showed students entering and exiting the toilets and did not capture any vision inside cubicles, he said.

Last week, the Herald reported students at Rutherford College ripped down a CCTV camera outside the boys’ bathrooms because they were worried it might capture them exposed.

The school defended the cameras, saying they were there to protect students and record any incidents that took place.

READ MORE:
• Auckland Council pulls plug on costly combined CCTV camera network
• Premium – CCTV nation: New Zealand’s rapidly expanding camera network explained
• Say cheese: CCTV cameras installed in Te Awamutu
• Students rip down ‘covert’ camera outside boys’ toilet

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