Video surveillance in classrooms raises concerns among teachers

More safety legislature has been drawn to address parents’ concerns. Photo courtesy:

As students began to return to classrooms, some parents began to worry about their child’s safety at school.

A bill proposed in the Florida House of Representatives would allow visual and audio recording devices in public school classrooms.

HB 1055, sponsored by Bob Rommel, R-Naples, would allow school districts to adopt a policy to install cameras in classrooms.

A pilot program was created by Broward County schools for the 2020-2021 year, as the district has already implemented the security cameras. According to the Broward County Public Schools website, parents of a student can request that a camera system with visual and audio capability be placed in a classroom if the student has a disability and is in an individualized program with majority disabled members.

This bill could help monitor and reduce the number of student-teacher related incidents, according to Rommel. He says the most important issue that the bill addresses are the safety of the students and their environment.

“I think if we can do it in a safe way to protect the privacy of students and teachers, I think we should do it,” Rommel told CBS Miami. “I haven’t heard a response good or bad from any teachers, but you know what it’s not their private space, it’s our children’s space too.”

Each video camera would be installed in the front of the classroom, visible enough to monitor visual and audio recordings. Video surveillance laws in the U.S. allow for visual and audio monitoring anywhere in areas where there is “no reasonable need for privacy.”

Cydney Offord, a junior elementary education major at Florida A&M University, said this bill could be beneficial but also intrusive to teachers.

“Having video cameras present in classrooms can be good for observation and safety reasons,” Offord said. “However, these cameras may cause a teacher to feel invaded and watched 24/7 in her own classroom.”

Teachers will be required to wear microphones and provide a written explanation if video surveillance is interrupted.

Before installing, school districts must provide a written notice of the installation of the cameras. Principals will be responsible for keeping up with recordings and no footage will be live-streamed or used to evaluate teachers on performance.

Lynn Johnson, an eighth grade English teacher at Deerlake Middle School, says the teacher’s safety is just as important as the students.

“I think it’s great to want to cater to and protect the students because that is important,” Johnson said. “But teachers also should be catered to as well as far as listening to what we need from our students and the parents as well. It’s a team effort.”

Schools are permitted to record students for purposes of safety and education and do not need parental permission for safety and educational purposes.