Practice Areas

Should cameras be placed in special education classrooms?

We recently discussed the issue of discipline in special education classrooms. Specifically, we noted that special education teachers sometimes go too far in their disciplinary tactics. Certainly, some special education students can become violent and may need to be safely and properly restrained, temporarily isolated or otherwise responded to in order to ensure that the violent student, teachers and other students remain safe. However, disciplinary approaches need to be safe, appropriate and only used when necessary.

In one of our recent blog posts, we noted that a teacher responded to a screaming autistic child by suspending him upside down by his ankles and dipping him into a trash can. This incident and others like it are prompting some parents to call for the installation of cameras in special education classrooms.

These parents are understandably concerned that their vulnerable children may be subjected to abuses and mistreatment at school that their children may be unable to communicate with them about. Cameras would provide both a deterrent for mistreatment and would provide evidence of events as they unfold in the event that mistreatment does occur.

On the other hand, installing cameras in both special education and mainstream classrooms where special education students are taught may send the wrong message to teachers. Instead of trying to prevent abuses in the first place, cameras would simply enforce the idea that if one is going to mistreat students, such mistreatment should occur away from the camera’s lens. What do you think about installing cameras in special education classrooms?

Source: WCNC, “Moms of special needs kids lobby for cameras in classrooms,” Amy Cowman, June 4, 2015

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