By JOHN ANDERSON
On Thursday, Wellsville Village Police charged long-time Wellsville Central School teacher assistant Barrie R. Fanton, 79, of Wellsville, with official misconduct.
Photos Fanton took over the years at Wellsville appear on websites for sale including licensing websites like Getty Images and Alamy. The images appear on news sites and commercial pages of students, mostly in middle school.
The Wellsville Sun learned Fanton resigned. Her resignation will officially be accepted at the next Wellsville Central School Board of Education meeting.
An email to Wellsville Central School Superintendent David Foster questioning the word “unauthorized photos of students” was not returned.
However, after the email, Foster posted on the Wellsville School Facebook page (with just 2,700 followers), “I can appreciate that there are many concerns over the actions of a former employee who has been accused of taking unauthorized photos of students, staff and others. As this involves a legal matter, I hope you can appreciate we are limited in what we can say. We are doing our best to communicate with a large group of stakeholders in the most efficient way possible. What we know is that photos, showing typical interactions in a school environment, were taken for the unlawful purposes of selling them to a commercial stock photography business. The photos depict students and staff, but also former students and staff, as well as unaffiliated individuals, both at our school and events away from school. The District was not aware of this activity and confronted the employee when we learned of it. The employee resigned and has since been charged with official misconduct. The District is cooperating fully with law enforcement and aggressively pursuing steps to get the photos removed from commercial access. I will communicate with you further when we know more. David Foster, Superintendent.”
Fanton’s photos have appeared in yearbooks, the monthly mailing by the district and the school website over the years.
After the Wellsville Sun contacted the legal department at Getty Images on Thursday the images shot by Fanton and being sold were removed.
On Friday, Anne Flanagan, Vice President of Public Relations and Communications from Getty Images responded to questions from the Wellsville Sun.
Getty has removed the images for now as they are checking to see if they are compliant with company policies.
“We recently became aware a photographer whose content is distributed by Getty Images is being investigated for taking unauthorized photographs,” Flanagan said. “We have removed and are reviewing the content to investigate whether the images are compliant with our content policies. We take claims of this nature very seriously and have robust practices and policies in place to ensure content for commercial use has the necessary model and property releases.”
Parents of students in the photos have reached out to the Wellsville Sun asking how they would know if images of their children in a classroom were sold for profit.
Wellsville Central School approved retaining three law firms for the school year in July, Harris Beach, PLLC at $278 an hour, Webster Szanyi, LLP for $265 an and Richardson & Pullen for $160.00 an hour.
The lead attorney for Wellsville at Webster Szanyi said they are not handling this incident. Voice mails to Harris Beach and Richardson & Pullen were not returned..
Foster’s statement on Thursday read, “The District was recently made aware of one of its now former employees, Barrie Fanton, taking unauthorized photos of students and/or others engaging in school activities during the school or workday, and then selling those photos to at least one other company (as stock photos) for her personal profit. The District is working with law enforcement and its School Attorney regarding a full investigation of this matter. It is our understanding that Ms. Fanton was arrested today. Additional information will be forthcoming, as appropriate, as further details are known.”