Can a child with an IEP be recorded, filmed, or photographed in the classroom?
The US Supreme Court has held that students do not have a right to privacy in the classroom – and this includes kids with disabilities in special education programs.
Federal laws that are intended to protect the privacy of students focus on education records.
Federal laws designed to protect the privacy of students do not prohibit cameras that record a child in the classroom.
Making the Case for Cameras in the Classroom
There is a legitimate concern about child abuse in the classroom and the probability that cameras might lower the frequency of these incidents.
Many parents and advocates believe cameras in classrooms are the only thing that will protect children who can’t defend themselves, especially disabled kids, isolated in self-contained public school classrooms.
Other school district district personnel and teacher’s unions argue it’s unfair to use cameras to record thousands of educators in an attempt to prevent the misconduct of a few.
Can cameras protect special-needs kids from abuse? [no longer available] asks “why is it in 21st century America, a world in which nearly everyone is under some kind of surveillance, that those who run our public schools believe their most vulnerable students should be purposely denied this protection?”
The article above about a series of reports from Houston’s Fox 26 News reporter Greg Googan is no longer available. You can read about it in this 2013 Texas Observer post – Parents of Abused Children Plead for Cameras in Special Ed Classrooms. https://www.texasobserver.org/abused-special-ed-students-parents-cameras-classrooms/
The investigation in Texas led to the law that went into effect in 2016 requiring that cameras be installed in self-contained education classrooms at parent or teacher request.
“The law … applies to all of the state’s public schools and charters, and to any self-contained classroom in which at least half the students receive special-ed services for at least half the day.”
Texas Education Agency Reviews Calm Room Use Following NBC 5 Investigation
The courts have repeatedly held that students in school have fewer privacy rights than when they are out of school.
Cameras are acceptable in hallways and classrooms. Cameras are not acceptable in bathrooms or locker rooms where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy.
Video of children, with or without IEPs, on school cameras used for surveillance of school property is considered a public record. Images of students captured on security videotapes that are maintained by the school’s law enforcement unit are not considered education records under FERPA.
Legal Aspects of the Use of Video Cameras in Schools, Department of Justice