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Wellsville Central School Superintendent issues statement concerning unauthorized photos

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Today, district Superintendent David Foster sent this email to school staff and parents concerning a former staff members unauthorized photographs of student and staff. The photos were in turn sold on the internet as “stock photos.” See The Wellsville Sun’s previous reporting on the story at the end of Foster’s letter.

“As has previously been shared by the District, we want to provide further information regarding unauthorized photos taken by a former District employee. 

What happened? In mid-December 2021, a photograph was used on a national television program, The Today Show, with an image of the District’s School Resource Officer. The administration began to inquire how The Today Show had a photograph of its SRO in one of our school buildings. After investigation, the District learned that one of its former employees apparently took photos of students and employees during the school day. Photographs taken during the school day by this individual had not been questioned as the individual assisted with school yearbook photos. Upon investigation, the District learned, however, that this individual used various photos she took for her personal use for her profit business. This included uploading photos to at least one stock photo company website. It appears that this website may have then sold and distributed the photos to various entities.

 What Information Was Involved? The photographs showed students, employees, and others in the typical and regular school environment. A handful of photos may have included information on a student such as the approximate grade of the student(s) and/or reference to certain needs of a student. 

What Has Wellsville Done? Wellsville addressed the matter with the individual who, immediately thereafter, resigned from the District. The individual was directed to communicate with the companies she did business with, and to inform them that the unauthorized photographs were to be immediately removed from their website(s). Wellsville Central School contacted, and worked with the Village of Wellsville Police Department, regarding this matter. The Wellsville Police Department arrested this individual and the case is now being handled by the Allegany District Attorney’s Office. 

What Is Wellsville Doing? The District has begun the process of following up with any company and/or website provider that continues to use these photographs and is requesting that these images be removed from their site. These entities are cooperating and are removing the photo(s). If you happen to learn of any image used of you/your child without authorization and/or model release, please email the Superintendent’s Office at [email protected] In this e-mail, please include the website link of where the photo can be found, and whether you already requested the removal of the photograph. The District has also been in contact with the NYS Education Department Chief Privacy Officer. 

What Can You Do? While there is no evidence or reason to believe any photo taken without authorization by the individual had malicious intent, the District understands your wishes and concerns about not having you/your child’s image or photograph distributed, especially on the internet. We regret any concern or inconvenience this may have caused. If you wish to pursue this matter further, against the individual under New York Civil Rights Act §§ 50 or 51, we recommend you seek the advice of an attorney.”

David Foster, Superintendent

Wellsville Central School District

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