Starting this fall, all public and charter schools in Texas will be allowed to equip special education classrooms with security cameras. The installation would be on a request-only basis by parents or school staff members.
“This will be an opportunity to have an unbiased view and opinion of what’s actually happening inside the special needs classroom,” said Hector Hernandez.
Hernandez’s 14-year-old son has Down Syndrome and says his son’s class at Oliveira Middle School in Brownsville will be equipped with the cameras.
“As a parent of a special needs child, we understand the routine is very important,” he said. “You never know what’s gonna trigger an incident, whether it could be a slight tantrum, trigger into a meltdown,” Hernandez said.
The cameras would be in classrooms where a student spends at least half of their day. The cameras cover every angle of the classroom with video and audio, but would not be installed in bathrooms.
The bill — first sponsored by Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr. (D-Brownsville) — leaves school districts to fund the money for the cameras on their own.
“We’ve been looking at this plan for a couple of years in our district. We, you know, got the heads up a couple of years ago and this year it will go into effect, so we already had a plan for that so we’re prepared,” said Alida Suarez, Special Education Director for Edinburg Consolidated Independent School District.
According to the Association of Texas Professional Educators, the costs of a classroom setup could run as low as $3,000 or as high as $9,000.