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PatchChat Live: Video Surveillance In Fairfax County High Schools

Join us at 1 p.m. Friday as we discuss the new proposal with school board members, principals, community advocates

Next month, the Fairfax County School Board will vote on a program that would give high school principals the ability to install video surveillance cameras inside their buildings.

The debate has pitted principals who believe the system could curb theft and discipline issues against local activists and community members who say the program is ineffective and violates student rights.

The Fairfax County High School Principals Association and the schools’ Department of Facilities and Transportation Services first brought the proposal before the school board The principals, who the school board then charged with gathering feedback from PTSAs on the issue, presented their findings to the board on Monday, reporting Two — Langley and Annandale high schools — opposed it. Four high schools reported their communities were split on the issue, while two others took no position.

Despite the community support principals spoke about Monday, certain questions still remain, some school board members said at Monday's meeting: what process principals must follow to have cameras installed in their schools, how the tapes would be reviewed and whether students' opinions are being considered.

Join us at 1 p.m. Friday to discuss the proposal, outstanding questions and more with school board member Dan Storck, Lee High School Principal Abe Jeffers and Michele Menapace of Fairfax Zero Tolerance Reform.

Can't make Friday's chat? Email your questions to erica.hendry at patch.com before the chat and we'll include it in the discussion.

Nicole Trifone reported for this story.

Mike Kane November 18, 2011 at 04:55 PM
Cameras are a total invasion of privacy. And yes they are a 'feel good' measure. School vouchers would solve this problem. Parents wouldn't be forced to send their children to the closest geographically located school, and could choose which school best met their child's educational needs. If a school placed cameras inside it's building, and parents didn't want their children being filmed, they could send their children to a different school without cameras, and vice versa.
hilarie malmberg November 20, 2011 at 05:57 PM
First--two questions: I'd like to know the name of the contractor that benefits from sale of these cameras to our schools. Why are we so enamored of cameras as a shortcut to good discipline and parenting? What next? Teachers replaced by computerized teaching programs and robots? As for principals discretionary funds, I believe all FCPS money comes from us, the citizens of Fairfax County, Virginia, and the U.S. I oppose these cameras for the very reason they are an invasion of privacy that is reminiscent of tactics used by dictators of totalitarian regimes. A free society, needs to run on sound policy of justice, freedom, and trust. As a South Lakes HS parent, I vote a resounding"No!". We need to "teach our children well" by modeling justice through sound governance. We, as a society are supposed to model and teach that in the U.S., citizens have certain unalienable rights. What do our students see when parents and FCPS teachers/principals advocate for surveillance systems? We lead by example; therefore, do we sow the seeds of fear and distrust? Or do we encourage just behavior by providing opportunities for reasonable expression and personal grow through sound educational leadership and parenting. I vote "No!" to this shortcut solution and the waste of money; I vote "No" to surveillance cameras in our public schools.
janet otersen November 21, 2011 at 11:41 PM
In response to Hilarie's question about which companies will benefit from this expenditure: ADT proposed 2 cameras, wiring, labor costs for $5200 ESI, from VA Beach, proposes the server/storage at a cost of $2600. This is where the $8000 estimate comes from for the cafeterias. I agree completely with your other comments--keep up the fight!
Will Radle November 22, 2011 at 04:27 PM
Yesterday I asked SB members to actively listen to our community. In past 4 years we increased students per teacher, cut education funding, and lowered take home pay of teachers year after year. Throughout the county, people are expressing a consistent message. They do not feel heard. A shadow of insularity, division and power politics permeates our culture. I asked the SB to not move forward with their decision unless they are confident that parents, teachers and students have been effectively heard. A. Will Radle, Jr. Creating a Culture of Listening http://fairfaxstation.patch.com/blog_posts/creating-a-culture-of-listening FairfaxAdvocates@gmail.com http://YouTube.com/WillRadle1
Laurie Dodd November 22, 2011 at 05:40 PM
I agree that parents have not been heard by this SB. Most members I contacted about this issue did not bother to acknowledge me. Neither did the principal, though he told the SB that his parents support the plan (despite my objections, and how many others?) The local paper says Strauss wants to vote in December. She is working AGAINST the wishes of parents and is undermining efforts to reform FCPS disciplinary procedures by pushing for a quick vote. I hope other SB members will stop this railroad!

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