When laws are passed during the Texas Legislature’s biennial session, school districts must review their policies and bring them into compliance.
One such law, Senate Bill 1398, passed during the Legislature’s 2017 session. It deals with cameras in special education classrooms.
That was the reason the Killeen Independent School board discussed changes to their special education camera policy during their workshop Tuesday evening, according to Terry Abbott, KISD chief communications officer.
Seen by Abbott as a very small update, the revision to the policy is meant to keep the document “in line with the language in the new law enacted by the Legislature this year,” Abbott said.
SB 1398 is an update to SB 507, which authorized cameras to be installed in qualifying special education classrooms at the request of a parent, board member or staff member in the school beginning in the 2016-2017 school year.
SB 1398 alters the response time when a camera is requested in a special education classroom. Previously, administrators were given 10 business days to response. Now, that time is cut to seven business days.
The second revision involves the videos recorded by the special education classroom cameras.
“The proposed new KISD policy would reduce the amount of time the video must be retained from six months to three months,” Abbott said.
The exact wording of this clause in the policy reads, “Video recordings shall be retained for at least three months after the date of the recording but may be retained for a longer period in accordance with the District’s records management program or as required by law.”
A number of parents of special education students have expressed concerns about the camera policy, including having access to the videos.
Angela Garvin, mother of a special education student at Cavazos Elementary School, learned of the camera policy update cutting video retention time in half, and the reason behind it.
“Why doesn’t Killeen strive to do more than the minimum when it comes to special education?” she asked.
Abbott said, “The change is the same thing every other school district in the state is doing; adapting policies to meet changes in state law.”
Other KISD policies were also affected by actions of the Legislature this year.
Tina Cole, KISD director for employee relations, presented nine policies that were revised due to changes in state law. These included policies on instructional resources and materials, curriculum development and design, campus charters, advertising and fund raising, and alternative methods of earning credit.
Some of the revisions involved moving the policy to a new section of the policy manual. Other changes involved minor rewording of phrases.
The policy on academic achievement involving graduation requirements was subjected to extensive revisions, eliminating a student’s eligibility to graduate under some state programs instituted prior to the 2014-2015 school year.