This was probably inevitable.
Just a few months after Houston decided it would have all its school-detailed police officers wear body cameras, a school district in Iowa has taken the next step and pledged to buy body cameras for principals and administrators.
The goal is to record interactions with parents and students, as well as student movements in the school, the Des Moines Register‘s Mackenzie Ryan reports.
Burlington District Superintendent Pat Coen, who could not immediately be reached for comment, told Ryan the reason is accountability.
“Did we treat this person with dignity, honor and respect? And if we didn’t, why didn’t we?” he said.
But it also seems to be about liability, and limiting it. Earlier this year Mark Yeoman, a principal at a district middle school, had an encounter with a student that resulted in the student accusing Yeoman of kicking him. Security camera footage subsequently exonerated Yeoman.
Coen also said his experiences wearing a helmet cam while deployed in Afghanistan with the Army National Guard influenced the district’s decision.
“It wasn’t so much about catching the other guy, but collecting how we did on the operation and how can we do it better,” he said.
The district plans to spend $1,100 to purchase 13 cameras that can be clipped onto ties or lanyards, and can be turned on and off as needed, Ryan says.
Yeoman told Fusion only administrators, not teachers, will be required to wear them, and that the district was still finalizing its protocol for when the cameras should be turned on.
Ken Trump, director of the National School Safety and Security Services, a consulting group, said the Burlington plan would intimidate students and harm their relationships with administrators.
“It’s overkill,” he said.
It is also likely to raise legal issues, such as whether the footage is a matter of public record, that the district will have a hard time wrangling with, he said.