New Texas Law Requires School Districts To Put Cameras In Special Ed Classrooms

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A bill signed into law Friday, June 19th will require Texas school districts to put cameras in special education classrooms but leaves it up to districts to pay for them. The law is intended to protect children with disabilities from being abused and teachers from false allegations of abuse. Opponents of the law say it’s unfair and law makers didn’t take the right approach to solve the problem. Parents of special needs children pushed law makers to pass Senate Bill 507 this legislative session. “For 4 and half hours, Mr. Hays verbally provoked, physically assaulted and wrongfully imprisoned my son repeatedly,” Bethany Watson said before an education committee this legislative session. She described her son’s experience in a so-called “calm room” at a Plano Independent School District elementary school. Breggett Rideau attended the same hearing and spoke about her son’s experience at a school in Keller. “As the years went on his thumb was broken,” she said. “Those cameras could have prevented that.” School districts questioned who would pay to buy, install and maintain the cameras. “We estimate AISD would incur cost of roughly 1.5 million dollars in the first year to equip our 535 affected classrooms,” Michael Savercool, life safety supervisor at Austin ISD, said to law makers. The Association of Texas Professional Educators lobbyist Monty Exter said the law maker who wrote the bill had good intentions. “Unfortunately the legislature has again found the most expensive least effective way to deal with the issue,” he said Exter said there are very few cases where teachers attack students and believes law makers could have looked into other options. “This bill directs limited education dollars primarily towards technology vendors as opposed to directing it towards better development of our special education teaching force,” Exter said. Special education teacher Richard Wiggins agrees. “It’s not about teaching ability its more about surveillance in the classroom,” he said. Parents believe the cameras could help children who cannot speak up and report abuse. It’s estimated it will cost $3,000 per classroom to install and maintain images for the mandated six months.

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