Dallas ISD Trustees Discuss Requiring Cameras in Special Education Classrooms

Dallas ISD trustees are talking about some potential changes that could affect hundreds of special education classrooms in the district.

It's a new proposal presented this month by trustee Dustin Marshall of District 2 in the north Dallas area.

He wants to require each special education classroom to have video cameras installed to protect students -- and even teachers -- in an effort to prevent abuse and problems.

He said children with severe disabilities often don't have the ability to speak up for themselves when they are hurt, especially at school.

"This is a population that I don’t think is well represented and that falls on all of us trustees to learn more about how we can help them and take proactive steps to help our most vulnerable kids," he said.

Marshall said this idea came about from a special education advisory council he has been running for the past year. While gathering feedback for opportunities of improvement, parents of children with special needs came to him with concerns -- and this was one of them.

Right now, state law requires cameras to be installed only of a parent, teacher or staff member requests it.

This DISD proposal would just outright require it in all special education classrooms.

Marshall said installing cameras district-wide would help protect the most vulnerable kids in DISD and even protect teachers if they are falsely accused of wrongdoing.

"These are really our most vulnerable children. Many of them have autism, down syndrome -- most of them are nonverbal. So if there was an incident in their classroom, the kids can't speak up for themselves and can't report it," he explained. "And from time to time, we do have reports of incidents. Sometimes there's merit to them and sometimes not, and having a camera in classroom provides accountability for the teachers and adults that encounter that child."

DISD administrators voiced concerns at the last meeting that cameras in nearly 500 classrooms could be expensive or could even drive teachers away.

Their discussion continues Thursday at their regular board meeting at 6 p.m.

Location: Turney W. Leonard Governance and Training Center
Ada L. Williams Governance Room
5151 Samuell Blvd.
Dallas, TX 75228

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