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Cameras in classrooms allegedly violate student privacy – Michigan Capitol Confidential

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School cell phone policies will be more strictly enforced as parents demand increased access to classrooms

Installing cameras in classrooms in the name of giving parents a window into their child’s education would violate federal Family Education Rights and Privacy Act and policies. community schools in Grand Blanc, a lawyer said during a July 19 school board meeting.

The view of the Grand Blanc reported that parents and a council member asked the district to place cameras in classrooms or allow students to use cell phones during school hours. Proponents of the move say it would increase the school’s transparency.

A school district attorney, however, said the classroom cameras would violate students’ right to privacy. “If a camera is in the classroom, each of those children has a right to privacy in that video recording, which can only be waived by each of their parents,” Jeremy Chisholm said at the board meeting. July Board of Directors. “FERPA essentially provides that parents have almost unlimited access to any identifiable school records for their children.”

No one else is entitled to this record unless the parents give explicit written permission. Chisholm mentioned a hypothetical video recording of a class of 30 children. If a parent wants to access the video, the school must get permission from the other 29 parents.

The district has no responsibility to protect students from recording by other students, Chisolm said, unless the recording is shared with the administration.

Chisholm said that to his knowledge, no school in Michigan has a camera in a classroom, and FERPA is the reason.

There are thousands of cameras across the district in hallways, buses and common areas, all for security reasons, Superintendent Trevor Alward said at the meeting. But none are in the classroom, he added.

Alward sought Chisholm’s legal opinion on the district’s cellphone policy, which effectively prohibits students from using phones in class. Officials at the Grand Blanc school have been pushed back by some students and parents after telling parents and students on June 23 that they would enforce the years-old policy again. Enforcement had become lax in recent years.

Board Policy 5136 states, “Cell phones, media players and other related portable electronic devices may be used before school, after school, during leisure time and during a student’s lunch period. Internet-ready devices may be used in the classroom at a teacher’s discretion for educational purposes only.

It goes on to prohibit cell phone use in class unless a teacher grants students permission for a specific educational purpose:

“Any electronic device used during class without the teacher’s consent or disrupting class will be confiscated. Cameras, including mobile phone cameras, should not be used without the specific prior consent of the classroom teacher. Students who violate this policy will have items confiscated and face progressive discipline.

At a June 27 board meeting, some parents said they were concerned about the policy. They said that without students being able to collect video or photographic evidence, parents would not be aware of the issues in the classroom. Parents cited examples of pride flags displayed in classrooms, classroom discussions of white privilege and sexually-themed art projects.

Board member Amy Facchinello said she recognizes cellphones can be a distraction in the classroom, but she also sees them as a valuable tool for her own children.

“There were times when something happened in their class that they were very uncomfortable with, and they were able to film or photograph whatever was on their mind and bring it to my attention,” said said Facchinello at the June meeting. . “If we want to eliminate the ability of children to film things, then we have to find a replacement for that, which would be cameras in the classroom. It is a tool for their safety.

Board member and former high school teacher Yasmeen Youngs said in June that mobile phone use had “got out of control” and was interfering with learning.

“To say that the reason we want to take the phones away from them is that we want to hide what we’re doing in class is absolutely not what’s happening,” Youngs said. “When you try to engage students and focus them on learning, having that distraction on their desk, you lose them every time they look at their phone.”

Youngs said she understands the kids need their phones and she doesn’t want to take them. She said when students keep their cell phones in their backpacks, teachers don’t have to compete for their attention.