Following the arrest of a Northampton High School janitor on charges of taking photos of people in a girl’s bathroom, Principal Bryan Lombardi is defending the school’s hiring practices.
Lombardi said there had been no way to screen out Michael J. Kremensky, 22, of Florence, since he had never been caught doing anything like this previously. “Any person hired the district goes through fingerprinting and a criminal background check,” said Lombardi.
Kremensky was arrested on Friday at 10:27 p.m. on four counts of photographing an unsuspecting nude person and was arraigned this morning. Kremensky was hired in August 2017 and had been working as a janitor at the high school since mid-fall, said Lombardi.
Parents and students at Northampton High School received alarming news late last week when it was revealed that a janitor at the school had “made structural modifications” to a girl’s bathroom.
It was later revealed that the “structural modifications” were holes in the ceiling that were used to take photographs of people in the bathroom.
Cpt. John Cartledge of the Northampton Police Department said the holes in the ceiling of the first-floor girl’s bathroom were discovered on Thursday by a janitor and a custodial staff member who were working in the bathroom and the police were notified. The investigation is ongoing, said Cartledge.
Pam Southwick, 51, the parent of a senior at Northampton High, believes Lombardi when he says that nothing further that could have been done to prevent it. “If he’s never been caught before,” she said with a shrug outside of the school Monday afternoon. She said she was positive that her daughter had used the bathroom in question. “Sure, she has. Thank God they found it.”
Jasmine Butler, an 18-year-old senior felt more confused than anything when the school first told students because few details were given. The term, “structural modifications” was used, creating more questions than answers. Now that Butler has more information and has talked it over with friends and her parents, she said, “It’s kind of creepy but it’s being handled and that’s a little bit of a comfort.”
Students at the school have been reaching out to school counselors, teachers, and administrators about the issue, according to Lombardi.
“Concerns are being brought up. Students have come to me with questions,” Lombardi said. “They want to know if they were photographed, what happened to the photos, and about hiring practices.” He said the school is answering them as well as they can.
Maggie Gruszecki, 65, whose son is a junior at the school, was shocked. “I feel a lot of compassion for parents with girls here,” said Gruszecki. She wonders whether this was the first time he had done something like this.
Julie Becker, 57, felt conflicted. “On the one hand, there’s outrage that this could have happened but, on the other hand, they took all the appropriate steps,” she said of the school.
Gruszecki agreed. “I think the principal has been really transparent.”
Devontay Edmunds,17 and a junior at Northampton High, said, “I was surprised that something like this could happen here. You hear about these things happening but not here. A lot of the girls are very uncomfortable.”
Becker lamented that her freshman daughter had to feel “a sense of vulnerability. “It’s putting adult worries on kids.”