School officials say hidden cameras have never been found at El Campo ISD schools before a device was discovered at Northside Elementary Monday, leading to the arrest of now former Food Services Director Scott Gelardi.
“As educators, our number one priority is to make every child feel safe and loved,” Superintendent Kelly Waters said. “This week, that trust was violated.”
Gelardi was arrested Tuesday morning and charged with invasive visual recording in a bathroom or dressing room, possession of child pornography and possession of child pornography with the intent to promote after a hidden camera was discovered in a boys’ bathroom at Northside.
“Restroom and locker room facilities were checked on all ECISD campuses as a precautionary measure and will continue to be routinely checked,” Waters said.
Gelardi was an employee of food service contractor Aramark. Officials would not say when Gelardi began working for ECISD, but he worked as the food services director for the district since at least March, 2012.
Gelardi underwent a screening process before working for the district, which was conducted by Aramark, according to Waters.
“Any and all persons working on school campuses are subject to strict and extensive background checks,” Waters said. “If a person does not have a criminal history, the required background check is of no consequence. In recent incidents, no one had a prior criminal history.”
School officials do not know how long the camera was hidden in the bathroom before it was found.
Parents of Northside students were notified about the incident Wednesday morning through notification system Skyward. Students brought home sealed letters to parents containing information about the incident.
“I would like to commend the teachers and staff of Northside, Northside parents and anyone who has supported, assisted and responded to our needs,” Northside Principal Rebecca Crowell said. “We ask for your continued support and prayers as we move forward.”
The camera was discovered by maintenance workers on Monday, and the camera contained photos and video of several unknown male students.
Gelardi was established as a suspect through school video surveillance, according to ECISD’s official statement.
Police searched Gelardi’s office, vehicle and Rosenberg apartment, according to an official statement from El Campo Police Department.
Investigators were scheduled to begin forensically examining Gelardi’s electronics Tuesday. Police have found no evidence of physical contact with children. The investigation is ongoing.