Cameras in the Classroom
In 2015, a law was passed allowing for cameras in certain self-contained special education classrooms to protect non-verbal special education students from abuse or neglect.
Conroe ISD’s obligation to place, operate, and maintain video cameras is triggered by a request from:
- a parent whose child receives special education and related services for at least 50 percent of the instructional day in a self-contained setting such as a Living in Functional Environments (L.I.F.E.) Skills, Preschool Program for Children with Disabilities (PPCD), Social Development Class (SDC) or Regional Day School Program for the Deaf (RDSPD) classroom;
- a staff member assigned to work in a self-contained setting such as a Living in Functional Environments (L.I.F.E.) Skills, Preschool Program for Children with Disabilities (PPCD), Social Development Class (SDC) or Regional Day School Program for the Deaf (RDSPD) classroom; or
- a member of the school District’s Board of Trustees, the campus principal, or an assistant principal.
In order to make a request, a Request for the Installation of Video and Audio Recording Equipment form must be completed and turned in to the campus principal. This form can be found on the Special Education Department’s website under Cameras in the Classroom. Under most circumstances the equipment will be installed and functional within 45 school business days.
The cameras must be capable of covering all areas of the classroom, including any room attached to the classroom that is used for time-out. The camera cannot video record in a bathroom or the changing area, however it must be capable of recording audio from the changing area.
Texas Education Code § 29.022 sets out the criteria for the type of classroom eligible for installation of audio and video recording equipment. Generally, the law requires that the classroom be self-contained with a majority of the students who regularly attend the class being provided special education services more than 50% of the instructional day. In CISD, the classrooms that meet eligibility are Living in Functional Environments (L.I.F.E.) Skills, Preschool Program for Children with Disabilities (PPCD), Social Development Class (SDC) and Regional Day School Program for the Deaf (RDSPD) classrooms.
No. Once a request is made for the installation of a camera in an eligible classroom, Texas Education Code § 29.022 requires school districts to record students without parental consent because the purpose of the recording is student safety.
No. The law makes no provision for a teacher or other District employee to object to the installation of a camera in a classroom.
The law requires that advanced written notice of the placement of cameras be provided to:
- all school or campus staff where the request was made; and
- the parents of all students attending class or engaging in school activities in the classroom where the camera will be installed.
A camera could be turned off if the student whose parent requested installation of the camera withdraws the request. However, before a camera is turned off during the school year, notice will be sent to the parent of every student in the classroom. A parent of another student could then request that the camera continue operation by submitting a new Request for the Installation of Video and Audio Recording Equipment form for that classroom.
Additionally, at least ten days before the end of the school year, the parent of every student in the classroom will receive notice that camera use will not continue for the next school year unless the District receives a new Request for the Installation of Video and Audio Recording Equipment form.
Conroe ISD retains the recordings for three (3) months after the recording date.
No. Conroe ISD is prohibited from regularly monitoring the recordings. The law is very restrictive on who may view the video and under what circumstances it may be viewed. However, there are some limited circumstances under which the recordings may be viewed.
Generally, the recordings are confidential by law, meaning that the general public, parents, and school staff are prohibited from viewing or having access to the recordings. However, if an “incident” is reported and if after investigating the CISD Police find that an “incident” occurred, the recording may be made available for viewing to:
- the parent/guardian,
- District and campus staff, including the school nurse, an administrator trained in de-escalation and restraint techniques, or a human resources staff member designated by the school board, for the purpose of investigating abuse or neglect of a student by a staff member or physical abuse or sexual abuse by a student, and
- regulatory agencies such as the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, the Texas Education Agency or the State Board for Educator Certification.
If a recording does not document an “incident”, no one, other than the CISD Police, can view the recording.
An “incident” is defined by Texas Administrative Code Chapter 103.1301(b)(9). To be an “incident”, an event or circumstance on the recording must involve alleged “abuse” or “neglect” as defined by Texas Family Code §261.001 of a student by an employee OR alleged “physical abuse” or “sexual abuse” as defined by Texas Family Code §261.410 of a student by another student; AND the event or circumstance must have occurred in a self-contained classroom or other special education setting in which video surveillance under §29.022 is conducted.
The person alleging that an “incident” may have occurred, can file an Incident Report form with the campus principal within 48 hours of the time the incident is believed to have occurred. Once the form is received, CISD Police will review the video to determine if an incident has occurred.
If the CISD Police Department determines that an incident is documented in the recording, the Police will conduct an investigation to determine if any crime has been committed, as well as make any required reports to DFPS. The Police will also notify the District that a possible crime or violation of District policy may have occurred. Depending on the nature of the alleged incident, the District may make a report to the State Board of Educator Certification or other regulatory agency.
Incident Report forms are available at the campus and online on the Special Education Department website.
No. However, the recording could be released pursuant to a subpoena.
If the student whose parent requested installation of the camera moves from the classroom, the camera will remain operational for the remainder of that school year in which the request for the camera was made. If the student moves to a new qualifying classroom or a new school that does not have recording equipment installed, the parent must submit a new request for the installation of recording equipment in the new classroom.
No. A school official may not use the recordings for teacher evaluations. However, they may be used in an employee disciplinary proceeding such as a teacher termination hearing or teaching license revocation hearing.
If the classroom meets the criteria established by state law and the District receives a request to place a camera in an ESY classroom from a parent, staff member or member of the District’s Board of Trustees, the District will install recording equipment in an ESY classroom.
A parent who disagrees with the District’s determination that an “incident” is not documented on the recording can file a formal complaint with the District pursuant to CISD Board Policy FNG Student and Parent Complaints/Grievances within 15 days of receiving notice of the District’s decision. Expedited review by the Texas Education Agency is also available if the District denies a request to install a camera or requests an extension of time to complete camera installation.