Is Video Surveillance the Best Way to Guarantee Safety?

By now, many of you are working in school districts that have installed video surveillance cameras in the self-contained special education classrooms. This is now legally required in Texas, when a request from a proper person is received. The purpose of the law is to protect the safety of the kids in those self-contained classrooms. Those kids are typically among our most vulnerable.

The Dawg hopes that the cameras advance the cause of safety. But let’s all remember that there are other, more basic steps that all districts can take to guarantee student safety.

The most important thing the district can do is to be very careful about who they put in charge of that self-contained classroom. We should put as much care into the selection of the Life Skills teacher as we do the head football coach.

Second, we should support that teacher with adequate resources to do the job properly. This means personnel (aides), training, equipment and supplies.

Third, administrators should keep an eye on things. I am certain that the vast majority of teachers in self-contained classrooms maintain a loving, nurturing, safe classroom. However, there are cases that end up in litigation over student injuries inflicted by teachers or aides in the self-contained classrooms. Sometimes a bad situation is allowed to fester in that classroom because no one is monitoring. So we encourage administrators to pay attention. Drop in. Make yourself a presence in that classroom.

Fourth, administrators should pay particular attention to the paraprofessionals who work in the self-contained classroom. Many cases that end up in litigation fall into a category that I call “aide v. teacher.” The aide comes forward after a period of time and confides in someone at the school that she is troubled by some of the teacher’s practices. Sometimes, the aide has kept silent about this for over a year. It would be wise for campus principals to maintain a climate of openness whereby aides, or others, feel free to report things that they find troubling.

Technology is a wonderful thing, but it is no substitute for a good teacher, supported by strong and wise leaders.


File this one under: SPECIAL EDUCATION

Tomorrow: A suit against a kindergarten teacher.