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Ex-teacher aides sue media over release of videos showing abuse of special needs students

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Stevicus, May 9, 2019.

  1. Stevicus

    Stevicus Veteran Member
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    Ex-teacher aides accused of verbally abusing students now suing media for making recordings public

    Apparently, a mother of one of the students suspected something, so she hid the device on her daughter. She sent the recording to the school administration, and posted it on social media when the administration failed to take action.

    Do they have a case? They were fired for abuse.
     
  2. BSM1

    BSM1 What? Me worry?

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    I would have to say "yes", unfortunately. Although this is not to condone or exonerate the teachers' actions (of course they should have been fired) anything thing that shows up on social media can be faked. I think in a case like this, a social media source should be very careful about releasing any unsubstantiated claim or recording. Also, this can be construed as an invasion of privacy because of the hidden device.
     
  3. Revoltingest

    Revoltingest I have the kavorka
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    Invasion of privacy is unfortunately necessary at times.
    Btw, the law varies from state to state. In Michiganistan,
    only one party to a conversation need give permission to
    record it.
     
  4. BSM1

    BSM1 What? Me worry?

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    Same in many of the states (Va being one). However, you might have a problem with the special needs child being an agreeing party.
     
  5. Sanzbir

    Sanzbir Well-Known Member

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    Not in the state where it happened, which is a one-party consent state, which means as long as the child consented to the recording device, the teachers can be legally recorded without their knowledge. Only one person in an instance of recorded interactions needs to be aware of and consent to the recording.
     
  6. Sanzbir

    Sanzbir Well-Known Member

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    Typically, or at least with my own special needs sister, parental consent is needed in order for the child to consent legally.

    Since the mother is the one who recorded it, as the child's guardian she obviously would sign off on the consent.
     
  7. BSM1

    BSM1 What? Me worry?

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    I think the law says the agreeing party has to know and consent to the recording. There may be some gray area with strapping a recording device to a special needs child (or any child, for that matter) and meeting this requirement.
     
  8. HonestJoe

    HonestJoe Well-Known Member

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    Whether they have a case would depend on the specific wording of the relevant laws and the exact circumstances. Many of the key details and sequence of events aren’t reported (possibly rightly). It’s worth noting that according to the linked article, the teachers resigned rather than being fired, which could well have been a case of jumping before they were pushed but could be technically significant in court.

    I don’t think we do or can have enough information to really judge the rights and wrongs of this specific case, which is exactly why we have various courts to assess that detail and reach informed conclusions. I do suspect they teachers will face an uphill battle. The media seem to get an extensive benefit of the doubt in law, even when they’re clearly the wrong, and this sounds nothing like as clear cut.
     
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  9. Sanzbir

    Sanzbir Well-Known Member

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    Well if it is anything like my state, the child can either legally consent with parental approval or they cannot legally consent, in which case their power of attorney (usually just their guardian) is empowered to consent on their behalf. My sister is non-verbal but can still own and hold property and enter into contracts with my father or mother consenting on her behalf, and I'll be the one inheriting part of that power of attorney when my parents die.

    This would apply to situations involving legal consent to contract (as such an agreement would cover), so we'd either have a case where the child is cognizant enough for the parent to negotiate consent with them (and if the child is mentally capable enough to have to consent, one can only imagine it wouldn't be hard to convince them to agree to the plan), or the child is too developmentally challenged to issue consent and thus the mother (unless she signed away the power of attorney for some reason, but by default I believe she has it) would be the only one needed to consent, and would be consenting on behalf of the child, and the child has by extension legally consented to the arrangement.

    I don't really know what situation the child is in, but the story I am seeing states that the child was refusing to go to school, which leads me to believe the hidden camera may have been an element of convincing the child to go back to school, which would imply consent on behalf of the child. And as long as we have both consent of child and parent, it should be gold.

    And after writing all of that it and doing more research it may be a moot point anyways, since I've realized the lawsuit isn't against the mother who made the recording, it's on the media organizations who broadcast it.

    This might be like a Hulk Hogan/Gawker situation where they're trying to argue that an illegally made recording was broadcast without consent of any involved parties, however I'm not sure how they'd make that case when they don't appear to be pursuing action against the production of the recording, just the distribution of it. In the Hogan case, the identity of the person who made the recording was unknown, so it makes sense no lawsuit targeted that person individually, but in this case everyone knows who was behind the recording.

    Weirder still, this seems to be alleging that the news organizations violated wiretapping laws by broadcasting this?? But if that was somehow the case then the mother would be the one violating that law, and she's not the target of the suit.

    Now if I was a lawyer working for these people I would not at all want to go after the mother because that will look terrible to a juror with the aides going after their victim's mother in retaliation. But without going after the mother, I'm not sure how you would argue this in a court room, and I can only imagine the lawyers on defense will bring up and ask how the media corporations can be guilty of this and yet the aides aren't pursuing "justice" against the woman who actually made the recording.
     
    #9 Sanzbir, May 9, 2019
    Last edited: May 9, 2019
  10. Revoltingest

    Revoltingest I have the kavorka
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    I can be very persuasive.
     
  11. Brickjectivity

    Brickjectivity Veteran Member
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    It feels good to hate these people whom I have never heard of before. They connect to my plentiful internal ire. Its the stuff that angry men daydream about. The court should put them into witness protection, even if they are the foul scum that they seem to be.
     
  12. Shad

    Shad Veteran Member

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    Maybe. Recording conversations one is a party of is not illegal nor is disclosure when the parties involved do not have an expectation of privacy. A public school teacher in class will not fall under such an expectation. The issue is if the parent can be considered a party due to guardian laws and laws around children which make them not a party such as in business and contracts. Toss in the child is probably legally incompetent which is a problem as this creates a conflict between laws.

    (WV laws that is)
     
  13. Stevicus

    Stevicus Veteran Member
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    The school district administration may also be on the hot seat for this, since the mother originally sent the recording to them, but (according to the article) they failed to take any action. So, it was only at that point that she posted it to social media, which then got picked up by the broadcasters.

    I don't know if it has any bearing here, but the mother's interest is pretty obvious. She wants to protect her daughter from two bad people who never should have been working there in the first place. She wasn't getting any action from the school administrators, so she posted it to social media. But the broadcasters' interests are clearly different. They're just trying to get clicks/viewers/etc. because this kind of story gets people's attention.
     
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