Cameras in Special Education Classrooms
This legislation would require that school districts place a camera in self-contained special education classrooms and transportation. Cameras enable school staff and parents to review alleged incidents that occurred in the classroom and potentially resolve the issue. Cameras are an added layer of protection for both students and teachers.
Currently Texas, Georgia, and West Virginia have laws related to cameras in special education classrooms. Other states including Louisiana, New Jersey, Massachusetts, New York, and Florida have proposed similar legislation.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why would these cameras go in special education classrooms and not all classrooms?
This legislation would impact special education classrooms specifically. Students in self-contained classrooms may not have the ability to express what is happening in a classroom. Some students are in self-contained classrooms due to behavior concerns and there are elevated behavior incidents in the classroom. Cameras add extra eyes, allowing teachers and parents to see and understand a specific incident that occurred in a classroom.
How do cameras in special education classrooms help students and teachers?
Cameras do not completely protect students. In fact, we agree that cameras cannot be the primary strategy to ensure student and teacher safety, but cameras do add a level of protection.
Cameras allow teachers and parents who have children with limited expressive language skills to view classroom footage if the child has an unexplained injury or emotional distress on a given school day.
Teachers and parents can review footage from before a behavior incident to better understand what triggers caused the specific behavior response and determine how they can better support the student in the future.
Cameras protect teachers and other students from false allegations.
What about FERPA?
FERPA is a federal law that protects the privacy of a student’s records and provides rights to the parents with respect to their child’s education record. The footage from the cameras does not go into a student's personal records because it is not directly related to the student's education. There are situations where the footage should be saved including but not limited to if the photo or video is used for an official purpose or disciplinary action involving the student, if the video shows the student in violation of federal, local, or state law, or if the video shows the student being victimized, injured, attacked, or having a health emergency.
I'm a special education teacher. I worry about my teaching ability being under constant scrutiny. What protections do I have?
We know that teachers may have concerns with this legislation. Some may worry that administrators will always be checking up on them. This is not the case. The legislation is very clear that school districts may not regularly monitor the video or use it for the purpose of evaluating a teacher. It can only be used to view suspected incidents.