More cameras needed in schools?

Slow down. What’s the rush?

 

Due to a new law passed in the last Texas Legislature, school districts across the state are now being required to install video cameras in certain special education classrooms, if requested.

 

Although there are differing opinions regarding how the law – SB 507 – should be implemented and what the legislature intended, Mission CISD Superintendent Ricardo Lopez is proposing that the school district take a “proactive approach” by placing video recording cameras in all special education settings where special needs students receive instruction – apparently exceeding even the most vigorous interpretation of the law. Why is this necessary?

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Progress Times Publisher Jim Brunson

Other school districts are taking a more conservative approach. They interpret the law to mean one request equals one classroom, not the entire district.

 

The intent of the legislation is to document and curb abuse of special needs students.  As is often the case, this legislation seems to be creating unintended consequences due to differing interpretation by different parties.

 

Janna Lilly, the director of the Texas Council of Administrators of Special Education, states the intent of the law was not to install cameras in every special ed classroom, but on an as requested basis. She said Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr., who drafted the legislation two years ago, has promised to rewrite the bill this session to more clearly define the implementation.

 

Yes, the state Attorney General has issued an opinion on SB 507, ruling that if a request for the cameras is made by a parent, then cameras must be installed not only in the one classroom addressed in the request, but “to each school in the district.” However, the AG would not take into consideration letters from the bill’s sponsors that “their intent was for a request by a teacher or parent to install cameras to result in installation only in the classroom where the teacher offers instruction or the child/dependent attends class.”

 

The Texas Classroom Teachers Association published a report on the attorney general’s opinion in which it states, “many observers expect legislation to be filed to address the issues in a way that reduces the potential significant costs for school districts.”

 

The state Legislature in now in session and it seems prudent to not rush forward with a district-wide implementation of cameras at a cost of approximately $600,000. Rather, let Sen. Lucio and the other bill sponsors revise the statute to clarify their intent.  Then, of course, follow the law that is enacted. Meanwhile, slow down. Install cameras only where parents of special needs children, or special education teachers request them.

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