VANCOUVER, Wash. — Vancouver Public Schools notified the Clark County Sheriff's Office on Wednesday of an alleged voyeurism incident involving an employee of the district, according to the sheriff's office.
The staff member allegedly videotaped female students in the Alki Middle School locker rooms. When made aware of the incident, Vancouver Public Schools staff immediately informed the authorities. They then closed down and secured the locker rooms until officers arrived, the sheriff's office said.
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The suspect had already left school grounds by the time staff and authorities became aware of the incident, according to the sheriff's office. Officers were able to locate and contact the staff member Wednesday afternoon, but the suspect declined to cooperate with investigators. No arrests have been made at this time.
Detectives within the Clark County Sheriff's Office Major Crimes Unit are taking part in the investigation. Wednesday evening, detectives served a search warrant at the district employee's home and were searching both the locker rooms and other areas within the middle school.
"A search warrant was served at that residence; several items including computers were seized from there. Obviously that’s a little bit more of a detailed investigation when we start talking about those kind of things, said CCSO spokesperson Sgt. Chris Skidmore said,
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The Clark County Sheriff's Office said it has received full cooperation from Vancouver Public Schools as well as Alki Middle School staff, and the district has notified the parents of the disturbing incident. Numerous planned athletic programing were canceled in order to allow officers to investigate.
On Thursday the school district updated the situation, and said the employee had access to numerous buildings in the district, including at Skyview High School, adjacent to the middle school. Detectives checked facilities at Skyview on Thursday. The district said as a precaution, it would be checking restrooms and locker rooms at every school in the district
VPS placed the suspected employee on administrative leave and took away access to school facilities until a decision is reached in internal and police investigations, according to a statement they provided to KGW.
And on Thursday VPS sent a letter out to all school families which included a link to a district produced video statement from Superintendent Jeff Snell.
Snell said in part:
"Our students and their safety are at the heart of everything we do. We are both angry and frustrated to have to send this message to our community because it means the trust you have placed in us to care for our community’s children and our staff has been disrupted. We want you to know we are deeply sorry for the impact this situation is having on individuals and our collective community."
The statement reads: "VPS takes these troubling allegations very seriously and we are working closely with the Clark County Sheriff’s Office as they conduct their criminal investigation. We have been in communications with families to share this information. Due to the ongoing VPS and Clark County Sheriff’s Office investigation, we are unable to provide further information at this time".