Posted by on January 13, 2022 11:09 pm
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Florida bill would allow cameras and microphones in classrooms

Back view of school children learning in the classroom. Focus in on foreground. (iStock photo)

Florida bill would allow cameras and microphones in classrooms

Elizabeth Faddis January 13, 10:29 PMJanuary 13, 10:29 PM

A Florida lawmaker proposed allowing school districts across the state to place cameras and microphones in classrooms.

Republican Rep. Bob Rommel, who hails from Naples, on Dec. 28 introduced House Bill 1055, which would authorize “school districts to adopt a policy to install video cameras in public school classrooms” and allow certain teachers to be required to “wear a microphone.” The bill is listed on the Florida Senate website as still in the House.

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“I think if we can do it in a safe way to protect the privacy of students and teachers, I think we should do it,” Rommel said to CBS Miami. “I haven’t heard a response, good or bad, from any teachers, but you know what? It’s not their private space — it’s our children’s space too.”

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Broward County Public Schools seems to be one step ahead of Rommel, having already placed cameras in certain classrooms.

“That is happening right now, yeah,” said Anna Fusco, the president of the Broward Teachers Union, according to the report.

BCPS allows cameras to be placed in certain classrooms as a result of HB 149 being signed into effect July 1, according to the school district’s website. Classrooms that are allowed to have video cameras placed in them must meet certain criteria, such as if the classroom has a student who has a disability, an individualized education program, or if the majority of the students also have disabilities.

“Everything that happens in a classroom is monitored and watched and heard all day,” Fusco said. “There is absolutely zero privacy for anybody, even when the students are in the room and the teacher needs to do a parent conference on the phone.”

Fusco said that while they “have parents that have not exercised that right,” there are two sides to the rule.

“If one parent wants it, the camera goes in the room,” Fusco said. “If the other 10 parents don’t want it, they don’t have a say.”

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While a growing number of concerned parents across the country have started to push for cameras in the classroom as the debate heats up over what students are taught in public school, critics claim surveillance systems undermine teachers, are a gross invasion of privacy, and could easily be hacked by people with nefarious intentions. Teachers unions say they would lead to “nuisance lawsuits” by conservative groups who don’t want children learning topics such as critical race theory.

“We have questions about this bill regarding parental rights and other issues. Could law enforcement or the district use the video to investigate a situation dealing with a student without parental knowledge? Can the video be used by law enforcement if a student harms another student or a school employee? Can a teacher use the recording to show that they did not get assistance in a timely manner after calling the office? Can it be used as evidence to show how effective a teacher is in the classroom?” Andrew Spar, the president of the Florida Education Association, said in a statement about Rommel’s bill, according to WTSP.

Several states, including Texas, West Virginia, and Georgia, have passed laws that allow video cameras to be placed in certain classrooms.

The Washington Examiner reached out to Rommel for further comment.

© 2022 Washington Examiner

Originally appeared at Washington Examiner

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