SB 507 will require school districts and charter schools to video record what is going on in certain classrooms.  The bill is about student safety for our most vulnerable kids—those who are in self-contained special education classrooms.  Students who are non-verbal, non-ambulatory and of low cognitive ability are usually served in those classrooms. But there are other kids in a self-contained classroom as well.

This bill is very important, but it does not go into effect until the start of the 2016-17 school year. Thus, school administrators have some time to learn about this one and come up with a plan.  And to hold multiple bake sales and car washes.  SB 507 is an unfunded mandate—exactly the type of thing most of the politicians promised they would not do.

The Commissioner will be adopting rules to clarify how this bill will be implemented, including a more precise definition of the type of classroom which must be recorded. Look for those rules to be proposed sometime this next school year.

The bill specifies that it’s about safety—not teacher evaluation or any other purpose. In fact, you may not allow anyone to regularly or continually monitor the video recording of the self-contained classroom. However, you must permit a person to view the video if they ask to see it in response to a complaint that has been made, and they are “involved in the incident” documented on the video. Expect considerable discussion of what “involved in the incident” means.  This would include the teacher or aide who is “involved” as well as the parent of the student who is “involved.”  On top of that, certain identified district personnel must be given access if they are investigating a complaint about a staff person, or a student.

We will be reviewing this one, and all of the other new legislation, at my annual Back to School Tour this fall. Check out the details of that at: https://legaldigestevents.com/legal-digest-events/back-to-school-workshops-with-jim-walsh/.