You are here

Megan Bernard, Editor
10:58 am CST January 16, 2020

After a cell phone was found recording on Jan. 14 in a staff-designated bathroom at Sunset Ridge School, students and their parents informed district officials they had also used the bathroom in the investigation. 

As of press time, Northfield police cannot comment on if any students were recorded on the device and if they have been identified; however, they have issued a felony arrest warrant for a Highwood man after he was identified and banned from District 29 property.

The felony arrest warrant was issued for David Garcia-Espinal, 40, of Highwood. He has not been taken into custody yet.

“We’re actively attempting to locate him,” Northfield Police Sergeant Michael Hutensky told The Current. 

According to D29 Superintendent Ed Stange, Garcia-Espinal was an employee of two separate private vendors that provide services for the school district. 

“He was a cook in the Sunset Ridge School cafeteria through Organic Life, and was also employed as a custodian for Sunset Ridge School through Smith Maintenance Company,” Stange said. 

A staff member discovered the video recording device at 4 p.m. that Garcia-Espinal allegedly set up recording through a small hole in a trash can. Police responded to conduct a search of all D29 facilities, a press release from the Northfield Police Department said.  

During the search, “nothing else of a suspicious nature” was found, according to the release.

“The police have identified a potential suspect, who has been banned from District 29 property pending the outcome of the police investigation,” Stange said in a letter addressed to parents, guardians and staff.  

Garcia-Espinal worked at Sunset Ridge School, Stange said, but never worked at Middlefork School. Per agreements with the school venders, his background was checked before employment, and searches of the Illinois Sex Offender and Violent Offender Against Youth databases yielded no results.

In a Questions and Answers document provided from D29 to the community, Stange says the district does not have information about the content of the videotaping, and the Northfield Police have not since disclosed the names of any individuals who were recorded.

“After the discovery of the recording device was announced, students directly, and sometimes through their parents, began to inform District officials that they had used the staff-designated restroom in question,” Stange says in the document. “Parents of any student who disclosed this information were contacted by the district. We directed anyone with information relative to the investigation to contact the Northfield Police Department.”

In response to this incident, counselors have been available to students, staff and parents. 

Police have declined further comment as of press time since the incident remains under investigation.