This article was written by Kyle Englander of KNOE News 8 on October 4, 2021.
Monroe City Schools is delaying adding cameras to special education classrooms despite a new state law requiring it.
In June, Governor John Bel Edwards signed a bill requiring cameras in special education classrooms if a parent requests one. A parent would also be able to view that footage upon request.
However, at a Policy Committee Meeting on October 4th, the board decided to defer further discussion on implementing the law to a later date, citing concerns about how the cameras will be funded and how students’ privacy will be protected.
“The legal requirements we have for protecting the privacy of students, we can’t release this video, so there are some limitations there already for what it means for parents or guardians,” said board member Jennifer Haneline.
She also had concerns about how the cameras would be funded. The bill was stripped of any funds when it went through the Louisiana Legislature.
“Children with disabilities have very extra special needs,” explained Haneline. “For them to pass something they see as very important, but to actually put no dollars behind it, I think that does speak to their commitment towards our children with disabilities.”
Despite her concerns, Haneline does believe cameras could be a helpful tool.
“I think it could be really important for these students who have disabilities to make sure they are being protected and kept safe,” Haneline told KNOE.
Konstance Causey, the Deputy Director of Families Working for Families of Northeast Louisiana, advocated for the bill’s passage and says cameras create peace of mind for parents.
“A lot of the time, particularly when you have children with autism, those children are non-verbal,” explained Causey. “Cameras relay the facts.”
Causey, who also served as a consultant for the Louisiana Department of Education, says she has heard horror stories of children with disabilities being abused in the classroom.
“Parents not only suspected but were sure that some negative incidents had occurred, so that definitely does happen,” explained Causey.
Causey says Families Working for Families will continue to press lawmakers for funding to make it easier for districts to implement the new law.