Complete Coverage of the ongoing investigation of a South LA elementary school

Should Classrooms Have Surveillance Cameras?

Some people think surveillane could prevent Miramonte-like situations

By Gordon Tokumatsu and Yvonne Beltzer
|  Friday, Feb 10, 2012  |  Updated 6:36 AM PDT
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In the wake of school abuse scandals, some people think equipping classrooms with camera could protect children from predators.

In the wake of school abuse scandals, some people think equipping classrooms with camera could protect children from predators.

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In the wake of school abuse scandals, some people think equipping classrooms with camera could protect children from predators.

Surveillance cameras are nothing new. They are in convenience stores and government buildings and even in bus stations.

But they aren’t in classrooms.

Mal Weisberg, the owner of a company that sells surveillance equipment, said this should change.

"These parents deserve to know what their kids are up to," said Weisburg, whose company, Privacy Connection, has been selling such cameras for a quarter century.

The headlines from the abuse scandal at Miramonte Elementary School, where two teachers have been accused of committing lewd acts against students, should make every parent reconsider putting cameras in classrooms.

"In the case of Miramonte, there’s no evidence or proof of what’s going on beyond ‘he said’ or 'she said,'" Weisberg said.

A camera could be put near a classroom ceiling and the school district would have a digital record of whatever happened there, he said. It would not only be a deterrent, but it could also clear a teacher who was wrongly accused.

The real problem would be, he admitted, the monitoring of the cameras.

A cash-strapped school district hardly has the money to hire a slew of monitors to keep track of its thousands of classrooms.

Still, some parents said they believed this was a good idea as long as the video was used only to protect children and not for any other purpose.

But staffing and potential abuse are not the only issues to consider.

There could be, of course, an issue of civil liberties and privacy. Teachers could object to the intrusion of constant monitoring.

But Weisberg said it would have been cheaper to have a monitored classroom than pay out millions of dollars in lawsuits stemming from situations such as what is believed to have happened at Miramonte Elementary.

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