Some Killeen parents are unhappy with at least a portion of Killeen Independent School District’s policy related to special education video monitors.

Abby Barnes and Angela Garvin — who are both mothers of special education students in Killeen ISD — said the district should allow all requesting parents access to the monitor footage when parents have filled out the required paperwork.

The problem for the parents: There is no guarantee they will get to see the video footage under school district policy.

On Wednesday, Barnes told district officials she wanted to view footage after her 7-year-old son told her that his teacher had grabbed him near the neck area, which left cuts and bruising on his skin. She said it wasn’t the first time the teacher had physically hurt her son, resulting in bruises on his body. Similar incidents have been happening since November, Barnes said.

According to KISD policy, once a video review request is made, a school official will review the footage. If an incident was recorded, the district will conduct an investigation to determine if a crime was committed. If the district or police find such a crime occurred, only after they have completed an investigation may the footage be made available for the parent or guardian to view.

Garvin, a special education student advocate, said she would advise Barnes to file a complaint with Child Protective Services, or CPS, demanding that the district allow her to review the footage.

“KISD is required to report any claims of child abuse to CPS. The current policy is simply a way for KISD to keep power on their side by not automatically allowing parents to review the footage after an incident has happened,” Garvin said. “If it were my kid, I wouldn’t trust the district with that video footage alone.”

Barnes told the Herald on Wednesday that she submitted a video monitor request on Feb. 23 but has not received a formal statement from the district regarding what recorded on tape.

S.B. 507 BACKGROUND

Texas Senate Bill 507, which was passed into law in 2015 and went into effect in August, allows cameras to be placed in special education classrooms if a parent requests it. It applies only to students who attend a special education class for more than 50 percent of their academic day and have more than 50 percent of their curriculum taught in the same classroom by the same teacher. Parents are of students in those classrooms are allowed to submit a formal request to have the footage reviewed.

According to district policy, once a video review request is made, a KISD official will view the recording. If it is determined that an incident is documented in the recording, the district will conduct an investigation to determine if any crime has been committed. If the district or police find an incident occurred, and after they have completed their investigation, the recording may be made available for viewing to the parent/guardian.


Candidate comments

Killeen Independent School District board candidates running in the May 6 election were asked their opinion of KISD’s policy on allowing parents to view video footage recorded in their child’s special education classroom.

The candidates offered a mixed bag of solutions.

Lan Carter

“In my opinion, the language of the policy should be revised. Parents deserve immediate access to viewing of the video when their child has been involved in an incident. A parent should not have to go through red tape (file a complaint) to know the actual events involving his/her child. No parent should have to wait in frustration, especially if his/her child is nonverbal and can’t relay the events of an incident.

If a child has been involved in an incident, immediate emotional or physical support may be necessary. Without all the facts, depending on the video, a parent may act inappropriately. In order for a parent to be the best advocate for his/her child, one needs to know all the pertinent details to know how to proceed.

When school districts immediate response is to withhold information, parents become distrustful and weary. I have always viewed transparency as the best course of action. When parents send their children to school, they expect a safe environment and open communication with school personnel.

As a teacher, I have an open door policy and welcome parents to observe as long as they aren’t disruptive to the class. Every parent who has observed has been respectful and helpful. If everyone is doing what they are supposed to, they shouldn’t have an issue with the class being observed.”

Gerald Dreher

“I think it’s appropriate that first the district reviews the footage. I believe it would be helpful to allow the parents to see the footage, but not necessarily at any time they want, because that can become disruptive. My wife (a Belton ISD teacher) had a parent say their child was bullied and came home with bruises all over the child’s body. The school decided to have the child checked by the nurse before and after school each day and then no bruises were found afterward. I think the best solution in KISD’s situation would be that administrators and faculty review the footage first, and then allow the parent to view the footage if there is no alleged abuse. I think it would be helpful from a public relations standpoint, to invite the parent in to see the footage after any investigation using these cameras. I don’t think any parent would be satisfied or happy until they saw the video for themselves.”

Lonnie Farrow

“Currently, the district policy does not guarantee that the parent of the child in the special education classroom will ever legally have access to the footage in the event that an incident takes place in the classroom.

According to district policy, once a video review request is made, a KISD official will view the recording. If it is determined that an incident is documented in the recording, the district will conduct an investigation to determine if any crime has been committed. If the district or police find an incident occurred, and after they have completed their investigation, the recording may be made available for viewing to the parent/guardian.

Essentially, the policy says WE the district have the right to review the footage and if WE decide there is something that WE deem important enough to inform you about then WE will let you know about it. This policy is UNACCEPTABLE.

We asked for transparency in education and we are getting an opaque, filtered look. Who do you trust enough to be behind closed doors with your children without any transparency? I do not trust anyone enough to limit my access to information concerning my children. A vote for Lonnie Farrow is a vote for transparency. The education of tomorrow can not exist without visibility. If you have nothing to hide then why are you hiding?”

Robert (Bob) Snyder

“The initial S.B. 507 has had questions that arose because it did not include all the things that could happen. To my knowledge, S.B. 507 is being reviewed by current Legislature and there may be updates and changes to this in the future. Until the Legislature makes changes, KISD has set in place administrative procedures to address S.B. 507 and is in compliance.”

Marvin Rainwater

“I did not vote to approve cameras in classrooms. My belief is that the rights of parents who choose not to have their students videotaped at school have been ignored. To me the money spent on cameras, would have better served our students by using the money on professional development for sped. Teachers or higher salaries for self-contained teachers. These teachers are difficult to find, and by adding cameras to their classroom, I feel it will make the teachers even more difficult to seek these positions. KISD’s only course at this point is to follow the law exactly as written. It really does not matter if we agree with the statute as written; we must follow exactly the law as published. I do agree it is misleading to parents to have a camera in the classroom and then not allow the parent to view the video tape. I assume this is done on the behalf of other students in the class.”

Carlyle Walton

“After a careful review of the questions/answers and related forms on the KISD website related to the implementation of SB 507, the current KISD policy is an appropriate balance of confidentiality, respect for privacy and transparency. It addresses the intent of the legislation and most importantly the needs and concerns of the families of special education students.”

Stephania Williams

“Video cameras in the classroom is an excellent tool to use for safety purposes.

Additionally, use of the cameras as a teaching or re teaching tool provides great benefits for districts, students and parents.

The video data must be securely managed with tight access control. This is similar to other school data that is governed by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).

Deploying video in the classroom must start with good planning. The plan should outline file storage, informing parents, students, faculty and the community, and a reviewing policy.

The current policies in place by KIlleen Independent School District have been reviewed and deemed by the district appropriate at this time. The structure of the policy and the reasoning behind the current structure is not known to the public.

With that being said, the students, parents, district and community have been discussing and wanting more transparency.

Structuring the policy whereas all laws are followed and the students, parents, and district are all satisfied would require intense brainstorming and thinking outside of the box for all involved but would benefit our educational community as a whole.”

254-501-7568 | quinton@kdhnews.com

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