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Video Cameras
(Chapter 2   Video Surveillance, Continued)

Legal aspects of the use of video cameras in schools

Laws concerning privacy issues and civil rights may vary widely, so before beginning any electronic surveillance program, be sure to check with your school attorney. However, the following generalities are fairly consistent across most of the country:

Cameras may not be used in an area where there is a "reasonable expectation of privacy." Examples of these are bathrooms, gym locker/changing areas, and private offices (unless consent by the office owner is given). Examples of where cameras are generally acceptable are in hallways; parking lots; front offices where students, employees, and parents come and go; gymnasiums; cafeterias; supply rooms; and classrooms. The use of cameras in classrooms is often debated by teachers who want cameras for protection and teachers who do not. At this point in time, it is probably wise to use cameras in classrooms only when the teacher is given an option and notification that a camera is to be used.

Signage can be an important legal component in the use of video cameras in schools. As mentioned in the previous section, it is important that the presence of video cameras not lead a person to believe he or she will be rescued if attacked. Dummy cameras should not be used (which is in contrast to the "black boxes" on buses, in which cameras may or may not be located at any time). While a fake camera can create a temporary deterrent to some security incidents, the potential liability it creates due to a victim's impression of being rescued quickly is not acceptable.

Audio recording is often considered to be of greater legal concern than video recording in most States. The recording of conversations is viewed as more of an invasion of privacy, as conversations often take place where the participants do not expect to be overheard.

 



Research Report:   The Appropriate and Effective Use of Security Technologies in U.S. Schools