Tuesday, March 1, 2016
Texas Debates Line Between Safety and Privacy For Video Surveillance of Schools' "Calm Rooms"
Last year, Texas passed legislation requiring video surveillance of time-out or "calm" rooms used in special education classrooms to discipline students displaying behavioral problems. The law was passed after a Texas television news station broadcast a video of an eight-year-old autistic child being forced into a calm room. Several schools in the Dallas-Forth Worth schools acknowledged having similar rooms, which are about the size of a parking space. The law, intended to protect special-needs students from overaggressive teachers and staff, requires schools to install cameras and videotape interactions in every eligible special education classroom at a parent's request. Currently the law is an unfunded mandate (implementing the law could cost millions--about $3,000 per camera and related equipment--that Texas does not have), but even more troubling for some parents is that one parent could override other parents' objections to having their child videotaped daily. The law currently has no opt-out provision for parents concerned about their children's privacy, particularly as there are no guidelines on where or how long video will be stored. Read more at San Antonio ABC-News here.