Amid confusion surrounding Senate Bill 507, Killeen Independent School District decided last week to table the discussion of how to handle the initial six monitor requests.
The bill that went into effect in August says parents of special education students can request video/audio monitoring to be installed if the student attends a self-contained class for more than 50 percent of the school day.
In recent weeks, there have been multiple concerns from all parties involved that include:
Whether the district will be held financially responsible for filling all the monitor requests in every classroom.
What is the exact deadline that the district must meet to align with compliance to this law.
Can board members get further clarification before acting.
KISD parents of special-needs students have complained about the delay in getting cameras.
Board member Terry Delano said the board’s confusion on the new law stems from contradicting opinions from the Texas Education Agency and the Attorney General’s office.
“The problem with its immediate implementation is the fact that the TEA and the Texas Attorney General have completely different interpretations of the law,” Delano said. “After the law was passed, the TEA was tasked with developing procedures and guidelines for the legislation. Subsequently, the TASB (Texas Association of School Boards) legal team developed a policy for school districts to consider which would guide districts in the implementation and proper procedures for the new legislation.”
KISD established its position in a statement emailed to the Herald on Thursday.
“The District Administration is not objecting to installing cameras as required by Senate Bill 507. Further clarification is needed to ensure the district’s procedures and protocol are implemented in compliance with the legislation and TEA rules,” said Superintendent John Craft via spokesman Shannon Rideout.
The district has insisted that it is placing serious efforts toward acting in a swift manner to follow the bill.
“The District has purchased all equipment necessary to outfit 10 classrooms. This includes a server/storage unit that has the capability to support 30 classrooms. Additionally, this includes the required camera lenses, microphones, licenses, configuration and labor,” Craft said in response to KDH questions.
Two board members asked at Tuesday’s meeting why KISD can’t install the equipment in the five classrooms while awaiting further notice from state officials. Six KISD families requested monitors. Two of the students are in the same class.
“I would favor installing the monitoring systems in the five classrooms requested, if our attorney advised Killeen ISD it is legal to proceed with doing so as we await the final guidelines from the state.” KISD board member Shelley Wells said.
Board member JoAnn Purser added these same sentiments at the board meeting Tuesday night.
Another question that arose from the delay in implementing monitors was who exactly is in charge of enforcing the new law. The Attorney General’s office released a statement regarding enforcement.
“The commissioner of education has rule-making authority with regard to implementation. The office of the attorney general will represent the commissioner and the TEA if any legal action should take place,” said an Attorney General’s Office spokesman.
Many of the Killeen parents who are directly affected by Senate Bill 507 say they are frustrated with difficulties stemming from the lack of clarity. Angela Garvin, who attended last week’s school board meeting, wrote an email to the Herald on Wednesday expressing her sentiments about why the issue still exist.
“They will not meet with parents in these classrooms to get their take on the matter. They are being very hypothetical and frankly not caring about the needs and protection of these children,” Garvin said.
Garvin took issue with a statement by Board Member Susan Jones that parents of other children in the classroom didn’t want to be monitored.
However, Garvin said her children are filmed everywhere they go already, regardless of whether she wants them to be or not.
“Jones (board member Susan Jones) stated ‘What about the parents whose children don’t want their child on video?’ However, there are already cameras through out the district video taping both my children (playgrounds, hallways, in the office, on buses) and I don’t have a say in that. I can’t opt out that. I have to allow that to happen because that is board and district policy to videotape to protect the child. So, why is it different for the special education children?”
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