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Florida bill would allow cameras in classrooms, microphones on teachers

Published: Jan. 20, 2022 at 5:56 AM EST
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A new bill making its way through the Florida Legislature would allow school districts to put cameras inside classrooms and record students and teachers.

HB 1055 is sponsored by Rep. Bob Rommel, R-Naples, and Rep. Mike Beltran, R-Lithia.

The bill states the purpose of the cameras would be to record "incidents" such as bullying, or neglect performed by a teacher or student.

In districts where cameras are implemented, teachers would be required to wear microphones while class is in session.

The recordings, which the principal would oversee, would not be able to be livestreamed or used for teacher evaluations.

Parents and teachers would need to be notified before cameras were installed.

If an incident occurs, parents would have access to the recordings within one week.

Students not involved in alleged incidents must be blurred from the videos.

"There's all kinds of things that make video inconclusive," said David Freeland, president of the Education Association St. Lucie. "It's not that magic bullet to solve all of these incidents anyway. Again, we haven't had, we've been able to deal with our issues without the cameras, effectively, so I think they would cause far more problems than they would solve."

Freeland said he's concerned that the extra layer of scrutiny would drive away teachers from an already understaffed profession.

"This type of micromanaging scrutiny, additional pressure, whatever you want to call it, that is unnecessary," said Freeland. "It's certainly not going to attract people to the profession, and it probably will turn some people away."

Recordings must be kept for three months, or until the investigation is finished, and then destroyed.

If it passes, school districts would be required to vote on HB 1055 by Jan. 1, 2023.

Representatives from St. Lucie Public Schools could not be reached for comment.

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