Bill seeks cameras in certain classrooms to ‘protect’ students with disabilities
Sen. Scott Hammond (R-Las Vegas) wants public schools to install cameras in every classroom in which a majority of students receive special education services.
Under the bill, SB158, schools would be required to record video and audio in those classrooms throughout the regular school day. Written notice of the cameras would be given to every person who would likely be recorded, as well as to parents and guardians of students in recorded classrooms.
“What I'm asking for in this particular bill is really to try and protect those kids who are nonverbal, who aren't really able to communicate what's been going on with them in the classroom,” Hammond said about the concept, which has been introduced in at least two prior legislative sessions but never approved.
Schools would be required to retain the recordings for at least 45 days from the date they were made. The audio and footage would only be accessible in certain situations such as legal proceedings launched by the parent or guardian of a student, certain complaints or investigations, possible criminal activity and subpoenas.
The bill gives elementary schools until June 30, 2026 to install cameras in the required classrooms, and gives middle and high schools until June 30, 2028.
Three mothers who spoke in favor of the bill during a Monday meeting said their children had experienced abuse in a classroom.
“Cameras in their classroom could have saved our children from the abuse,” said mother Yesenia Gonzales with the group Azulblue United by Autism. “SB158 would give them a voice when an incident occurs as many are unfortunately unable to speak.”
Installation and ongoing costs for the cameras vary between each school district, as well as for schools under the Nevada State Public Charter School Authority. The Clark County School District, for example, estimates the effort could cost them approximately $45 million to $55 million over the next four years.
Douglas County School District Superintendent Keith Lewis estimates the “unfunded mandate will have costs in excess of $3.1 million to implement and then continue to be costly keeping the equipment and systems updated and maintained.”
Hammond said schools have already lost substantial amounts of money in lawsuits over incidents in classrooms, and the purpose of his bill is to try and mitigate the number of litigated cases.
Editor’s Note: This story appears in Behind the Bar, The Nevada Independent’s newsletter dedicated to comprehensive coverage of the 2023 legislative session. Sign up for the newsletter here.