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The Ringgold County Sheriff’s Office, the Ringgold County Attorney, and Diagonal school administration are investigating a report of a hidden cell phone video recording inside the girls locker room at Diagonal.
In an email to the Mount Ayr Record-News and Diagonal Progress, Diagonal superintendent Karleen Stephens confirmed on Saturday, April 13 a male student used a key to gain entry to the south gymnasium for himself and two female students.
The key had been issued to his parent while the parent was coaching youth league to gain access to the gym facility.
According to a copyrighted Facebook entry posted Monday, April 29 by the Creston News Advertiser, the two girls had contacted the male student to unlock the gym so the girls could run indoors.
While the female students were in the gym area, the male allegedly set up a phone camera in the girls’ locker room.
Following their workout, the girls showered and changed clothes before they discovered the phone concealed by a pair of shoes on top of a locker.
The post claims Diagonal High School principal Lorna Paxson had asked one girl about the incident Monday, April 15, but the phone was not confiscated until Tuesday, April 16.
According to Stephens’ email, however, school administration was not aware of the incident until Tuesday, April 16 when a teacher overheard students discussing it.
At that point, she wrote, the Ringgold County Sheriff’s office was notified. Law enforcement then interviewed the three students and took possession of the phone.
The Creston News Advertiser post stated its office had been contacted by the father of one of the girls involved.
The father claimed the school had failed to discipline the male student and that his daughter has faced harassment from adults and senior students.
The father also claimed superintendent Stephens had “threatened the girls there would be consequences if they talked with anyone.”
According to the post, Stephens denied that claim.
“The situation has really impacted the overall operation of our school,” she said. “Because certain students continue to talk about it … it was making the situation worse. So, we shared with the … students that they had a choice – they could talk with the law enforcement, their parents or school administrators. That’s within our realm to do. When behaviors are impacting the overall operation of the school, we can put things in place to calm things down.”
Stephens told the Record-News and Progress the school is waiting for the results of the phone analysis as well as the police investigation to be completed before further action is taken by the school district.
Ringgold County Sheriff Rob Haley and county attorney Clint Spurrier both declined comment to the Record-News/Progress, stating they cannot comment on an ongoing investigation, especially in the case of a juvenile.