State To Require Cameras In Special Ed Classrooms
In what’s believed to be a first, a new law in Texas will require schools to install cameras upon request in classrooms serving students with disabilities.
The law signed by Gov. Greg Abbott earlier this month mandates that school districts and open-enrollment charter schools in the state employ video cameras if they are requested by a parent, trustee or staff member.
Under the measure, such requests can only be made for self-contained classrooms and other environments where the majority of students are receiving special education services.
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“We heard testimony from students with special needs and parents whose lives have been forever changed by mistreatment in the classroom,” state Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr., who authored the legislation, told Disability Scoop. “It is my intention that the presence of cameras in these students’ classrooms will provide evidence in cases of abuse, and will also protect teachers who face wrongful accusations.”
According to the law, cameras are to be used exclusively “in order to promote student safety.” Cameras cannot be placed inside bathrooms or other areas where students change clothes, but should be able to record video and audio of all other areas of the classroom. The measure includes limits on who may view recordings and the circumstances in which such footage can be reviewed.
Several school districts and groups representing educators had opposed the bill, telling local media they had concerns about cost and the effectiveness of cameras in improving student safety.
Nonetheless, Abbott signed the legislation without comment.
The new law will take effect with the start of the 2016-2017 school year.