The comment sections in news articles reporting on abuse against special education students reveal how people in our society honestly feel about this issue. Some people adamantly reject the idea of placing video cameras in special education classrooms as an additional safety measure. People are concerned about the privacy rights of teachers and students. People feel there is already too much money given to special education programs. And some people believe no assistance should be given to individuals that will never be productive citizens in society.
This Has Nothing To Do With ME
This issue is not about privacy, nor is it about more money being spent, nor is it about "some" special education students that will never be productive citizens. This issue is about how we as a society treat those that are unable to protect themselves. That is what is at the heart of this matter. Moreover, where one stands on this issue, is exactly why our society is as it is and will continue to be this way.
These issues may not be “your” problem at this time, but parents of special education students are productive citizens in society that have all the same concerns as other parents. Parents want the best for their children. Parents do their best to juggle family, work, and life the best way they can. Parents desire to see their children as an extension of their hard-working efforts in years to come. Parents of children with special needs rely on educational support as much as parents of children without special needs. Parents of children with special needs contribute as much to the community and government as parents of children without special needs. Also, just like other parents, these parents want their children protected.
Breeding Ground for Abuse
Special education classrooms are a breeding ground for abuse. Many children in these settings have developmental disorders that disable their cognitive abilities to express themselves verbally. Many children in these classrooms are unable to communicate, meaning they are unable to answer questions such as, "How was school today?" One parent described it like this:
"Unlike typical children, autistic children don't realize they are being abused. They may think "this is what school is supposed to be like". Also, many special needs kids are nonverbal. So even if they knew things were not right, they might be unable to tell parents or authorities that they are being abused. This empowers those very few hateful teachers who are isolated from responsibility and accountability by their protective administration system". - Joe Lippeatt (Houston, Texas)
Special education teachers and the students they teach are the most vulnerable populations on every public school campus. There are little accountability and oversight within the special education classroom in regards to safety and prevention. Many parents are not called until days later about incidents involving their child. School administrators are more concerned with ensuring their special education teachers "trust" them than they are for the safety and protection of the special education students in the classrooms. An administrator in one district put it like this, "It is hard to find special education teachers and putting video cameras in the classroom will make the teacher feel as if we don't trust them". It is because of attitudes like this that some teachers accused of abusing a child are not fired but only transferred to another school. Furthermore, some teachers accused of using aversive disciplinary methods are allowed to keep their jobs. Hot Sauce On Crayons?
One reason abuse may occur in this education setting is because of a perceived lack of oversight. This lack of oversight leads to the mind-frame "I will not be caught in the act". What other reason would allow the mind of someone to think it is "ok" to soak cotton balls in vinegar and shove them in a student's mouth as a form of discipline? Would any parent stand for this? Hopefully not! Not a parent that cares for the safety and well-being of their children. And that is why parents across the United States are requesting video cameras in public school special education classrooms: A Grassroots Movement Is Stirring!
This is a matter of the heart
Imagine the hearts of parents that have - noticed bruises on their child’s body - found out that their child's hair was ripped out and then the child was closed in a filing cabinet - made to eat hot sauce covered crayons - had water sprayed into their face at point blank range - slapped, pushed, & beaten - made to sit in a closet/store room for extended periods of time without food or water. Here Is A Recent & Related News Report.
These children are innocent, and their parents are functioning members of this society. These children deserve protection just as much as any child in our society. As a society, are we really arguing over whether or not to implement better safety measures that will protect innocent children from aversive disciplinary methods?
Section 26.009 of the Texas Education Code expressly allows the videotaping of students without parental approval for the purpose of child safety.
Roberts v. Houston ISD (1990)
There have been a limited amount of court cases involving video cameras in the public school setting but here in Texas we have had Roberts v. Houston ISD (1990). The decision in this case found that the video surveillance of teaching in a public school classroom is an activity that is legally permissible because teaching is an activity that does not fall within the expected zone of privacy.