T.E.A. is planning to post proposed rules pertaining to SB 507, the controversial “cameras in the classroom” bill, this Friday. Educators should carefully review these proposed rules and make comments on them during the public comment period, which will run until May 9.
The proposed rules largely repeat what is in the statute, but they do offer clarifications on a number of key points. Here are some highlights:
1. The law allows a “parent” to request the installation of a camera. The proposed rules define “parent” to mean a parent of a student who is placed for at least 50% of the day in the type of setting to which the law applies--a self-contained classroom or “other special education setting.” Note that the statute could have been interpreted to apply to any “parent.” The proposed rules narrow that. The rules also clarify that a student in a special education setting who is 18 years old could qualify as a “parent.”
2. The law allows a “staff member” to request the installation of a camera. The proposed rules define “staff member” to mean only those teachers, related service providers, aides and administrators on the campus where the self-contained classroom or “other special education setting” is located. The statute could have been interpreted to apply to any staff member. The proposed rules narrow that.
3. “Self-contained classroom” is defined as the term is used in the Student Attendance Accounting Handbook.
4. “Other special education setting” is also tied into the SAAH and basically applies to residential facilities and separate campuses.
5. The law allows certain individuals to have access to the video if an “incident” documented by the recording has been reported to the district as a complaint. The proposed rules define “incident” to be alleged abuse or neglect as those terms are used in the Family Code; or, more broadly, “an event or circumstance that….allegedly occurred” in a setting in which video surveillance is conducted.
6. The proposed rules say that the law does not apply to TSBVI, TSD, Juvenile Justice facilities, state agencies that provide special education or any district, charter or private school that your school contracts with.
7. The proposed rules say that complaints alleging that the district has violated the law should go through district grievance procedures, rather than the special education due process system.
8. The proposed rules say that video surveillance is required only during the regular school year—not ESY.
9. Districts and charters will be required to adopt policies and procedures addressing the implementation of all this.
Meanwhile, Commissioner Morath has asked for an “expedited” Attorney General’s Opinion concerning SB 507. Let’s hope the AG does, in fact, render an opinion in an expedited fashion. Presumably, the AG’s Opinion could lead to some tweaks in the rules eventually adopted.
Watch for the posting of the proposed rules on Friday, April 8th.
DAWG BONE: STAY TUNED!