Parents expecting to hear a resolution about audio and video monitors in special education classrooms were disappointed Tuesday.
Killeen Independent School District’s board postponed discussion of complying with the state law, which became effective in August, requiring the monitors if they are requested by parents of special needs students.
Angela Garvin, who is a parent of a special education student in the district, spoke during the school board’s public forum, stating, “I am asking for approval of the cameras being placed in my child’s special-needs classroom. This again is not a proactive approach by this board. I urge you (Superintendent John Craft) and the board to come to an agreement on this issue.”
Garvin was visibly upset, struggling over her words when asking the board to implement the state law as soon as possible. Garvin was seen nearly in tears during her address to the board.
Garvin has been a key cog in projecting the voice of special-needs students in KISD and has regularly expressed her sentiments on the topic.
Craft said, “While we can’t address your comments directly, Ms. Garvin. We have placed this item on our agenda to be addressed later in this meeting.”
Six KISD families have requested the cameras. Two of the students are in the same classroom.
KISD’s board is fractured on the topic.
Some board members suggested putting cameras into the requested classrooms. Others said they were concerned about the cost of the cameras districtwide.
Board member Shelley Wells expressed her desire to place the cameras in the five requested classrooms as soon as possible, and if the bill is changed at a later date, to adjust their methods at that time.
“Why can’t we simply place the cameras in the self-contained classrooms for the request already? We can surely afford those requests, can’t we?”
Board Member JoAnn Purser expressed a similar opinion about placing cameras in the requested five classrooms.
“We are trying to show transparency, and I believe it would be in good faith to oblige the parents” who have requested cameras, Purser said.
Board member Susan Jones said her biggest concern was for how much the enacting of the bill could cost the district. She estimated it could be nearly $1.75 million if 100 classrooms needed video and audio monitoring.
Craft raised another issue.
“The key issue, I believe, in this process has come with regards to the opt-out of this bill by parents who disagree with the implementation of these cameras in their child’s classroom,” Craft said.
The “opt out” Craft is referencing is with regard to parents in the same classroom as a student who has requested video/audio monitoring who do not want their child to be recorded.
The policy explains that a parent of a child who does not want the monitoring in their child’s classroom can opt to move the child to another classroom.
The school board released a formal explanation of the process that can be found on the school website at http://bit.ly/2dVNDnM.
Corbett Lawler, the board’s vice president, expressed the need for data from the school district’s special education department in regard to the special education video and audio monitoring before further action can be made by the board.
Deputy Superintendent Desmontes Stewart said, “There are still six pending requests, and there is no current deadline for when the monitoring systems are being installed.”
According to Stewart, the Texas Education Agency has not given him specific answers to some of the questions from the board.
Garvin was obviously upset the camera requests were not approved.
Although members of the audience typically are not allowed to make comments during board discussions, Garvin spoke.
“I would love to speak with you all directly about this.”
When the next discussion item was introduced, she wiped tears from her eyes and left the room.
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