District Administration - February 2012 - (Page 55)

The LegaL ImpLIcaTIons of surveillance cameras T By Amy M. Steketee he nature of school security has changed dramatically over the last decade. Schools employ various measures, from metal detectors to identification badges to drug testing, to promote the safety and security of staff and students. One of the increasingly prevalent measures is the use of security cameras. In fact, the U.S. Department of Education reported that more than half of all public schools used security cameras during the 20072008 school year to monitor students, a 30 percent increase over eight years prior. While security cameras can be useful in addressing and deterring violence and other misconduct, they also raise several legal issues that can leave school administrators in a quandary. Does the use of surveillance cameras to capture images violate a student or staff member’s right of privacy? If the images captured on a surveillance recording are of a student violating school rules, may district administrators use the recording in a disciplinary proceeding? If so, are parents of the accused student entitled to review the footage? What about parents of other students whose images are captured on the recording? How should schools handle inquiries from media about surveillance footage? Can administrators use surveillance cameras to monitor staff? I outline the overriding legal principles, common traps for the unwary and practical considerations. Legal principles Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The Fourth Amendment prohibits the District administrators need to know the law and to make these policies clear. government, including public schools, from conducting unreasonable searches or seizures. Courts have generally held, however, that what an individual knowingly exposes in plain view to the public will not trigger Fourth Amendment protection because no search has occurred. Someone who is videotaped in public has no expectation of privacy and, therefore, hasn’t been searched by having his or her image recorded. Courts have also upheld suspicionless searches— such as random drug testing of students who participate in extracurricular activities—in which an individual’s expectation of privacy is low and the government can demonstrate a legitimate interest in conducting the search. Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. FERPA requires educational www.DistrictAdministration.com February 2012 55 http://www.DistrictAdministration.com

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of District Administration - February 2012

District Administration - February 2012
Contents
From the Editor
News Update
District Profile
Administrator Profile
Conversations
Product Focus
What Can U.S. Schools Learn From Foreign Counterparts?
A New Prescription for Fighting Drug Abuse
The Game Changer
The Legal Implications of Surveillance Cameras
CIO News
Mobile Devices Drive Creative Instruction
Products
Crisis Response
Professional Opinion
Problem/Solution
New Directions

District Administration - February 2012

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