- A Dallas Independent School District trustee wants cameras in all special education classrooms as a means to protect vulnerable students as well as teachers from being falsely accused of wrongdoing, The Dallas Morning News reports. But administrators are pushing back, saying it would be too expensive — about $3 million for equipment and $1.5 million annually for video storage — and could push teachers to leave.
- Texas law already requires districts to place cameras in special education areas if requested by a parent, staff member or district trustee, and parents can view the video. The law was implemented after reports of children being abused or mistreated at school.
- ISD trustee Dustin Marshall’s proposal came from feedback he received from a special ed stakeholders advisory group. In recent years, Texas has come under federal scrutiny for not accurately reporting use of restraint and seclusion in disciplinary actions.
Marshall compares cameras in the classroom to body cameras worn by police officers, saying videos create accountability and protection for all parties. Superintendent Michael Hinojosa doesn’t support the plan, citing the costs, and that there have been few requests to review videos that already exist.
Cell phone video produced earlier this month shows a former substitute teacher beating a special needs 16-year-old female student at a school in Kyle, Texas. Investigators say it appears the student hit the substitute in the face, and the substitute responded by repeatedly punching her, throwing her on the ground and stomping on her head.
While cameras are required in Texas only if requested, in Georgia, cameras are allowed in special education classrooms for safety and training purposes. Participation is voluntary and access to footage is limited to administrators and parents who request permission to view it. Law enforcement and court officers can access the video through subpoenas.
West Virginia passed a law this year allowing cameras in special ed classrooms after a Berkley County instructor was caught on video telling a student: "I'll punch you in your face. I ought to back hand you right in the teeth." In West Virginia, classroom video can only be viewed by teachers, school officials or parents who request to it.
Cameras are also allowed in special education classrooms in Georgia for safety and training purposes.