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We are instituting a pilot program on one campus this year, whereby the principal and assistants will be required to wear body cameras at all times. We have had too many complaints of inappropriate conduct. 99% of the time our staff has done nothing wrong. So we think this new tech tool will help protect our staff from accusations of wrongdoing. Plus, when someone has done something wrong, we will have the evidence we need. A local technology store is underwriting the costs on this. So it looked like a good deal.
But the problem is human error. You see, they are supposed to turn the dadgum thing off at certain times. Like when they go to the bathroom.
We had our administrators wearing the cameras, just to get used to them, on our first days back as we prepare for the new year. Sure enough, Principal Notsosmart forgot to turn it off when he went to the john. And someone (we suspect the assistant principal) somehow got hold of the recording and posted it on YouTube.
It’s not very visually interesting. An incredibly close-up look at tile grout. And we hear the splashing of liquids, along with the voices of the principal and someone else, telling bad bathroom jokes. There is at least one loud bodily noise as well. It’s not racist or sexist or politically incorrect in the least. It’s just stupid and embarrassing. --WADDYATHINK?
We think you should wait on Iowa. The Burlington Community School District in Iowa is reportedly outfitting its principals and assistants with body cameras for the upcoming school year. So it might be a good idea to let them be the test case with this new technology.
Here in Texas we have a legal issue to consider, as well as the likelihood of more embarrassing moments. Remember that we have a law that limits the authority of school officials to video or audio record students. Section 26.009 of the Education Code requires school officials to obtain written parent consent before making, or authorizing the making of, a video or audio recording of a student. There are some exceptions to that general rule. Among other exceptions, you can have cameras for purposes of safety in “common areas of the school or on school buses.” But if the principal is wearing the camera at all times, you are likely to move beyond those common areas. Besides, you already have the authority to put up a camera in the hallways, cafeteria and other “common areas.”
That new law that requires cameras in some of our special education classrooms is not in effect for this school year. It goes into effect with the start of the 2016-17 school year. So the current law restricts the use of video and audio recording, and we suspect that a body camera would seriously increase the risk of a violation of the current law.
So why not let the Hawkeye State take the lead on this. Best of luck to you and Principal Notsosmart.
DAWG BONE: PRINCIPALCAM: AN IDEA WHOSE TIME HAS NOT YET COME.