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TEA Proposes Rules for Video Cameras in Special Education Settings

04.07.2016 — TEA has posted proposed rules for the implementation of SB 507, which requires video cameras to be placed in certain special education settings. The comment period is from April 8 through May 9, 2016. The earliest effective date is June 16, 2016.
 

The rules are being proposed after Commissioner of Education Mike Morath requested an expedited opinion from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on March 11 regarding the intent and statutory construction of SB 507. Specifically, Commissioner Morath seeks legal guidance on the following questions: 1) whether a request for video surveillance is limited to one self-contained instructional setting; 2) whether a parent can limit their request to one or more specific instructional settings; 3) whether the term “staff member” means only a campus employee or campus employees with supervisory authority; and 4) whether video surveillance can be terminated after circumstances have substantially changed.

The proposed rules do not address three of the questions Commissioner Morath asked. They do provide a definition for the term “staff member.” In addition to a teacher, paraprofessional, educational aide, principal, and assistant principal, a “related service provider,” a non-employee, is also considered a “staff member.” “Related service provider” is not defined. The opinion by the attorney general may eventually affect the final definition of the term.

A preliminary review of the proposed rules reveals the following:

  • Campuses that receive video equipment, after a request is made, must place, operate, and maintain video cameras in self-contained classrooms or other education settings in accordance with Texas Education Code §29.022. It is not clear what “in accordance” means in light of the pending request to the attorney general.
  • Terms such as “parent,” “staff member,” “self-contained classroom,” “video camera,” “video equipment,” and “incident” are specifically defined.
  • A school district board of trustees and the governing body of an open-enrollment charter school must adopt written policies relating to video surveillance.
  • A district or charter school is prohibited from using IDEA or state special education funds to implement the video surveillance requirements.

School districts are encouraged to submit comments during the comment period to rules@tea.texas.gov.

Read the proposed rules.

See TEA’s request for an attorney general’s opinion.