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  1. #1
    westvillagegirl is offline Junior Member
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    Unhappy tape-recording students

    What is the name of your state?Texas
    I am a middle school Spanish teacher. I have from time to time tape-recorded my students.

    Last Thursday, a student entered my classroom during 7th period class and stole a micro-cassette from my desk. The entire class witnessed this incident. I speculate that the principal was involved in this. She knew I had tape-recorded her reprimanding me because I had my students write a get-well letter to a fellow co-worker. The principal had harrassed this teacher so severely that the teacher became ill with panic attacks and too scared to return to work.

    Anyway, I reported the incident to her promptly. The next morning I was called into her office. Sitting in the office were the school counselor and the assistant principal. Also, to my surprise, she had invited one of my students and the student's father. This student was not involved in this incident and neither was the parent.

    She proceeded to reprimand me severely in front of everyone in her office.
    She said she had recovered the tape and that she would not return it to me. She then said, "You are hereby directed to hand over all of your tapes." I told her that I didn't have any other tapes. She then began to wave the micro-cassette tape around in the air for all to see. She then told me it was illegal to tape-record minors.

    I replied to her that I was unaware that it was illegal. She told me the tape was her proof that I was breaking the law.

    She also accused me of being unethical and unprofessional because I had my students write the get-well letter to my fellow co-worker. My principal said it was against the code of ethics to have students write about any co-worker and very unprofessional.

    Then she said she believes that students have been writing in my grade book and demanded that I hand it over to her. This I couldn't do at the time because my grade book was at my house. She told me I had to go home to get it and bring it back to her.

    After this she said she was submitting the accusations to the central office. Also she told me to "be advised that there are a number of accusations against you, many of which I had not read to you." She wouldn't tell me what they were.

    Lastly, she said that depending on what the central office decides, she will go from there and and contact the district attorney.

    I asked her if she was implying that she was filing a civil lawsuit against me. She replied that based on what the central office decides, that was exactly what she planned on doing.

    I am devastated. I have not returned to work since she dismissed me on Friday to bring her my grade book. I have called and told them I am having a severe panic which is causing a severe asthma attack. My doctor has prescibed anti-anxiety medication to help me deal with this.

    Is it true that it is illegal to tape-record students? My previous principal at another school said we should tape-record students to show progress in student growth.

    What is my recourse?
  2. #2
    racer72 is offline Senior Member
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    If you are in a union, call a union steward immediately. I would also consider talking to a local attorney too.
    If you feel my answer is rude, mean, snarky or in anyway not to your liking, I did my job. You don't need to tell me.

    No private messages, I do not reply to them.
  3. #3
    westvillagegirl is offline Junior Member
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    re: tape-recording students

    State:Texas

    I am not in a union. We do not have teacher unions in Texas. I have contacted an attorney who has advised me that tape-recording students, or anyone for that matter is NOT illegal as long as there is one consenting party. The consenting party can be either the person who is doing the recording or the person who is being recorded. He said this was based on the case involving President Nixon.

    I was also informed that it is not illegal for a student to write in a teacher's grade book.

    I have a meeting with him tomorrow as he has informed me that the principal has violated my rights and should be sued. He believes that more than likely the school district will choose to settle out of court rather then go to trial.

  4. #4
    cbg
    cbg is offline Senior Member
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    While state law can vary and I did my teaching more than 20 years ago in a state very far removed from yours, we were ENCOURAGED to use tape recorders as a teaching tool. I don't think you have anything to worry about. Good luck.
  5. #5
    westvillagegirl is offline Junior Member
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    Unhappy re: tape-recording students

    State: Texas

    I just returned from seeing an attorney. I don't know what is going on but, he seems a bit frightened to take my case. I have told him I have over 20 witnesses who will come forward and would even like to make this a class action case. He has expressed to me that I have legal grounds to sue the principal and the school district. However, he said it would be a "bureaucratic nightmare."

    He wants to consult with other attorneys. I have called other attorneys who tell me on the phone that I have a case. But when I ask for an appointment, they back down and also say they need to talk to other attorneys. Does anyone know of any attorney who would be willing to sue a school district?

    I have SO much evidence against her which I have not mentioned on this message board. At the moment, I feel so discouraged.
  6. #6
    krispenstpeter Guest
    The one question I want answered is why have you not filed charges against the principle for theft?

    <that's a HINT!>
  7. #7
    westvillagegirl is offline Junior Member
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    Unhappy re: tape recording students

    State: Texas

    I don't know how I can prove that she told the student to steal the tape. I only have witnesses that saw the student doing this. I think that the principal will deny knowing anything about it.

    The attorney thinks I am a victim of reverse discrimination. Most of the teachers she has harrassed have been/are of the white or hispanic race. The school board and most of the administrators are mostly African-American.

    I don't see why this should matter, but apparently it does.
  8. #8
    cbg
    cbg is offline Senior Member
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    Just a pet peeve and really nothing to do with your situation but:

    There is no such thing as reverse discrimination. It's either discrimination or it's not. The law does not say, you can't discriminate against minority races; it says you cannot discriminate on the basis of race, period. That means it's just as much illegal to discriminate against caucasians as it is to discriminate against any other race. There's no need to "reverse" it; if it's discrimination and it's on the basis of ANY race, it's illegal.

    I know you're just quoting; it's just that this comes up in my field (human resources) constantly and the misuse of the term drives me nuts.

    Okay, now for something helpful. If there is a possibility that your race is a factor in this mess, you are free to file a complaint with the EEOC and/or the Texas Commission on Human Rights. You do not need a lawyer to file this complaint although if you are working with a lawyer, you should talk to him about it. Also, doing so will mean that you cannot take any further legal action (on the harassment issue) until you receive a right-to-sue letter from one or the other. On the other hand, you MUST have a right-to-sue letter if you plan to take any action with regards to the harassment.

    I know this is confusing so if I've just made the confusion worse, let me know and I'll explain further.
  9. #9
    westvillagegirl is offline Junior Member
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    Unhappy re: tape recording students

    State: Texas

    I think I know what you are talking about. The attorney said that I need to file a formal complaint against the principal. He also said to let him draw it up. He said after I do this I will probably get fired. I asked why I had to do this and he said because that was the course of action before I could file charges.

    I don't understand why, but he said the in education law, he thinks, that the administration has to be given an opportunity to remedy the complaint.

    There is only one week of school left before summer vacation. That isn't much time. And I don't plan on going back to that school next year. In the meantime, I'm too petrified to return to work because all of the students know what happened.
  10. #10
    mcedronron is offline Junior Member
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    recording anyone

    I am not a lawyer, but as far as I understand, it is only legal to record someone as long as that person knows he/she is being recorded.

    For instance, to record a telephone conversation, you have to either, advice the person at the beginning of the call (accomplished by automated systems, "Thank for calling ABC Company. For quality assurance your call may be monitored or recorded") or right at the beginning of the recording, in which case the person's affirmative response must be part of the recording or by transmitting a beep every so many seconds.

    Good luck!!!

    And try going the route of charging the student with theft. School police on grounds?

    But keep in mind that if you recorded the principal without her knowing, that evidence would not be admissible in court. I am guessing that her obtaining the evidence ilegally (theft) would also not allow her to use the evidence.

    Something that just came to mind, I am not sure if it would be the case with recording voice, but I do remember we used Waivers for Photographing minors, which had to be signed by the parents.

    For the mean time, go back to school, and finish the year. Don't give her cause to fire you in the grounds of absences or anything else.
  11. #11
    krispenstpeter Guest
    While your state mcedronron requires 'all party' notification of recordings, this poster is in Texas, which requires only 'one party' notification.

    That simply meants that ANY party to a conversation can give permission (even the person doing the recording) and it is legal.

    As for your assumption that it is automatically non-admissible, that is also false. Since Texas is a one-party state, the subject mattter of the recording is the ONLY subject that decides admissibility.

    Please get your facts straight before posting such false information.
  12. #12
    westvillagegirl is offline Junior Member
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    Angry re: tape-recording students

    Texas

    Well, I went back to school today. The principal was of course waiting. She wanted my grade book, which I handed to her and then had her sign a "receipt" that she had received it. That she wasn't happy about.

    She had 2 letters of reprimand waiting for me with many false accusations. That was about as much as I could take. I wasn't polite this time. I spoke my mind. I have talked to quite a few attorneys the last week so I am beginning to sound like one.

    I took out my tape recorder to record the conversation. This promptly annoyed her. So, to annoy me in return, she said she was going to record me also. Poor thing, she had problems with her recorder. So I told her I would gladly give her a copy of the conversation.

    She mentioned again that it was illegal to tape record minors. I told her it wasn't and that I had talked to 4 attorneys and mentioned a Larry Watts (attorney who spoecializes in suing school districts). So, she dropped that issue.

    Then she ranted on that I had told her that I had 3 different grade books and that I had to turn in all of my grade books to her. I'm not sure, but I think I only have to turn in the "official" grade book. Does anyone know if this is true or not? I really only have one grade book.

    Do I have to turn in all of my grade books to her? What is the official rule on grading? She told me I had to prove all of the grades in my book. Some of my grades are based on oral assessment since I am a language teacher.

    I will be so glad when this week is over. She seems to be changing her tune with me. But that is left to be seen.

    So, now what?? Must I turn in all grade books? Must all grades be proven??

  13. #13
    krispenstpeter Guest
    And when you told her that you would be glad to do as she requested as long as all teachers were required to do the same what did she say?

    And when you asked if she was singling you out because of your race what did she say?

    And when you said that you would be happy to comply as long as she put her request in writing and received School Board approval for her request what did she say?
  14. #14
    Peety Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by westvillagegirl
    State: Texas

    I don't know how I can prove that she told the student to steal the tape. I only have witnesses that saw the student doing this. I think that the principal will deny knowing anything about it.
    You, or you and your lawyer (adding gravity) talk to the kid with their parents and get them to roll over on (blame) the principal. Speak of dropping any recourse against them for petty-theft, purgory or attempt to defraud (in case they are thinking of denial) as an incentive for them to choose to be on your side, getting them to work for you not against you, Inform them about all the angles you can use against the principal, building an even stronger case against the principal** and how they could help you to get rid of this menace.

    you might want your lawyer to tape that meeting ************** he,he,he,he!!!

    Remember, the principal has shown a room full of people (that he/she reprimanded you in front of) that she/he had posession of this tape that came from your tape recorder, that they planned to hold as evidence against you, and intends to use as a means of coersion against you ......

    Sounds like "possession of stolen property" to me, with witnesses.

    Do you really think she's now going to claim she made the recording, after blasting you for doing that (with witnesses)? So if not, just how did she come into posession of this tape that she knows came from your room. Seeming as she/he knew of the rightful ownership, why didn't she return said property to it's rightful owner?

    The bottom line seems to be ..... correct me if I'm wrong ...... the kids, the parents, the school admin, the other teachers, the school district, etc. all had no problem with the common, and known, practice of some teachers tape-recording the class room sessions, for a wide variety of reasons. Until the principal had a problem with you demonstrating kindness & understanding towards someone she/he reprimanded did a "problem" arrise.

    **At which time the following occurred, coersion of a captive minor (principal being an authority figure to the child in a "captive" setting), contributing to the dilinquency of a minor (encouraging him/her to steal), a "petty-theft" (witnessed)(and coersed??) took place, posession of stolen property is publicly known and proudly displayed, defamation of character (your semi-public reprimand) occurred, on the job harrassment and coersion by a direct supervisor (threats and ultimatums) took place.

    That's just what I see, and I'm not a lawyer.

    I wonder why a lawyer isn't jumping on this case, seems like any lawyer worth his salt would !!! I say "worth his salt" because it's not just a slam dunk ... it'll take some work, but..... It's at least worth some public notariety .... and that's free advertisement !!!

    I doubt it would happen but even if somehow a "spin-doctor" were to attach a negative connoation to the situation; The lawyer is (almost) never tied to the facts of the case, and even if does get spun that way, the notariety will outweigh and outlast that bad spin. And if you win ~ even better !!!! So, IMO, there's no reason a Lawyer (willing to work a little) wouldn't take the case.

    Wisely CYA, but .....
    Don't be afraid to open the shades and let the world see what's really going on.
  15. #15
    krispenstpeter Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by Peety
    You, or you and your lawyer (adding gravity) talk to the kid with their parents and get them to roll over on (blame) the principal. Speak of dropping any recourse against them for petty-theft, purgory or attempt to defraud (in case they are thinking of denial) as an incentive for them to choose to be on your side, getting them to work for you not against you, Inform them about all the angles you can use against the principal, building an even stronger case against the principal** and how they could help you to get rid of this menace.

    you might want your lawyer to tape that meeting ************** he,he,he,he!!!

    Remember, the principal has shown a room full of people (that he/she reprimanded you in front of) that she/he had posession of this tape that came from your tape recorder, that they planned to hold as evidence against you, and intends to use as a means of coersion against you ......

    Sounds like "possession of stolen property" to me, with witnesses.

    Do you really think she's now going to claim she made the recording, after blasting you for doing that (with witnesses)? So if not, just how did she come into posession of this tape that she knows came from your room. Seeming as she/he knew of the rightful ownership, why didn't she return said property to it's rightful owner?

    The bottom line seems to be ..... correct me if I'm wrong ...... the kids, the parents, the school admin, the other teachers, the school district, etc. all had no problem with the common, and known, practice of some teachers tape-recording the class room sessions, for a wide variety of reasons. Until the principal had a problem with you demonstrating kindness & understanding towards someone she/he reprimanded did a "problem" arrise.

    **At which time the following occurred, coersion of a captive minor (principal being an authority figure to the child in a "captive" setting), contributing to the dilinquency of a minor (encouraging him/her to steal), a "petty-theft" (witnessed)(and coersed??) took place, posession of stolen property is publicly known and proudly displayed, defamation of character (your semi-public reprimand) occurred, on the job harrassment and coersion by a direct supervisor (threats and ultimatums) took place.

    That's just what I see, and I'm not a lawyer.

    I wonder why a lawyer isn't jumping on this case, seems like any lawyer worth his salt would !!! I say "worth his salt" because it's not just a slam dunk ... it'll take some work, but..... It's at least worth some public notariety .... and that's free advertisement !!!

    I doubt it would happen but even if somehow a "spin-doctor" were to attach a negative connoation to the situation; The lawyer is (almost) never tied to the facts of the case, and even if does get spun that way, the notariety will outweigh and outlast that bad spin. And if you win ~ even better !!!! So, IMO, there's no reason a Lawyer (willing to work a little) wouldn't take the case.

    Wisely CYA, but .....
    Don't be afraid to open the shades and let the world see what's really going on.
    And WHAT, in all that drivel, has anything to do with this poster's current situation and legal theory.

    Do you really post here just to hear yourself spew out this crap?

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