(In late November) the principal of Washington Middle School said she thought so, announcing the installation of “video surveillance throughout the school.”In another e-mail Follmer said:
“We intend to identify kids who do not fulfill their clean-up responsibilities,” said Principal Susan Follmer. “Who wants to sit at a crumb-ridden table?”
Follmer said in another e-mail that because the cameras are new, “there is no data” showing what effect they’ve had on school security, but that the cameras had “already saved us hours on investigations of unsafe behaviors.”I would point out that it can take time to go thru all that footage if you are investigating an incident (plus, it doesn't change that any incident would need to be fully investigated even with footage available of an incident.)
What does the district say?
Later, a spokesperson for Seattle Public Schools backtracked, saying Follmer had misspoken. “The school is not using cameras to find out who is cleaning up and who’s not,” said Luke Duecy. “Cameras inside and around schools are used for safety and security reasons.”The ACLU:
Duecy said school cameras are typically installed in hallways, entrances, and parking lots—though it’s not unusual to place them in cafeterias, too.
While cameras in schools are fairly common, said Shankar Narayan, Technology and Liberty Director for the ACLU of Washington, the school district should “recognize that there is a cost to surveillance to free expression that should be weighed against any benefits.”As one commenter pointed out, for the price of cameras and someone going thru the footage, it would be easier (and less costly) to hire someone to monitor the lunchrooms. Or you could ask volunteers to come in.
Particularly for a captive audience like children, we should have some real concerns about whether that’s the environment that we want students to have.”
I had a reader ask me about Board policy/procedure on where cameras are placed, if video is stored and for how long and who gets to see that video. Those are all good questions. I see that back in 2011 this topic was on the Operations Committee list of items for discussion and I checked Board policies but I'm not sure anything specific exists.
One thing I thought was understood is that the district makes final decisions on safety measures at schools but then again, it does appear that the rise of principals' power may have changed that as well.