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Cameras In the Special Education Classroom

on Thu, 03/03/2016 - 17:04
The Georgia Senate recently held hearings on House Bill 614, which passed the Georgia House of Representatives last week. The bill authorizes the Georgia Department of Education to require video cameras in self-contained special education classrooms. Ideally, this proposal would remove the “teacher-said / student-said” dynamic from disputes over classroom incidents be making a recording available for review by all sides.
 
However, I have grave concerns that the videos will not be a resource for a parents, but will only help school districts defend themselves. As section (b)(4) of HB 641 explains, the Georgia Department of Education must create:
 
Procedures and requirements to protect the confidentiality of student records contained in videos recorded from video monitoring cameras placed pursuant to this Code section in accordance with the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act and Article 15 of this chapter.
 
This is a significant issue because virtually every image of a classroom will contain images of multiple students – without permission of every student included in an image, a school district could easily refuse to provide copies to ANY family. This issues is not new – 34 C.F.R. § 300.615 essentially prevents IEP eligible students from reviewing records that include information on more than one child. Regardless of this restriction, appropriate school officials will still have access to all recordings.
 
In short, the video recordings created by HB 614 will be available for school districts as a shield to defend from accusations of misconduct, but will not be available for families to review in order to determine if an accusation is warranted. Although teachers may change their behavior because they know they are being recorded, I concluded that the one-sided aspect of recordings in self-contained special education classrooms means they will provide essentially no legally useful protection for parents.