LONGVIEW, Texas (KETK) – The Longview ISD Board of Trustees voted to install cameras in all special needs classrooms Monday. Previously, cameras were only in “most” classrooms, according to officials.
Officials said they want the public to know the district is taking steps to add the cameras, and will have them running before the beginning of the school year.
Ninette Farrar is a new life skills teacher at Bramlette Elementary STEAM Academy, and she is relieved a camera is in her classroom.
“At first it took me a back a little bit, but once I thought about it, I realized that it was there to protect me as a teacher as well as protect the students in my classroom,” said Ninette Farrar, Life Skills Teacher, Bramlette Elementary STEAM Academy.
Saying she has had parents concerned for their children’s safety in the classroom at her past schools, and having cameras helped clear up the issue.
“In the past, the school that I was at did not have a classroom cameras, but they did have them in the cafeteria, and there was questions sometimes that we were able to answer by rollbacking the video, and showing that,” said Farrar.
And that’s just what Longview ISD Superintendent Dr. James Wilcox wants parents to get out of this.
“Our Board of Trustees just wanted to make sure that our community knew and our parents knew that we’re protecting the most vulnerable students,” said Dr. James Wilcox, Longview ISD Superintendent.
The vote comes after the arrest of 6 Longview ISD employees who were accused of injuring special needs students, but Dr. Wilcox says it has nothing to do with it.
“The district has had the cameras in there for years. We just want all our parents to be aware that the cameras is in there, and where they can feel good about their child’s, the safety of their child,” said Dr. Wilcox.
Dr. Wilcox saying most vulnerable students safety is a priority, and they want to reassure parents that any special needs classroom without a camera will get one.
“A lot of students in self-contained rooms are non-verbal, and they can’t go home and tell their parents what how their day at school was,” said Dr. Wilcox.
Teachers say this not only helps the parents and students, but it also helps them feel safe as well.
“I think it puts the well being of both the teacher and students up as priority,” said Farrar.
Ninette Farrar saying the camera is small, has audio, and a 360 view, but says it won’t be a distraction to her teaching.
“I’m just going to keep teaching the way I have always taught,” said Farrar.
Both Farrar and Dr. Wilcox hoping this can help parents feel more comfortable with leaving their child at school.
Six former district administrators, teachers and employees were indicted on abuse charges against special needs students at J.L. Everhart Elementary, however officials said the decision to add the cameras is not because of those cases.
Former Principal Cassandra Renee James, former Assistant Principal Linda Kaye Brown Lister, former special education teacher Cecilia Gregg, former teacher’s aides Paula Hawkins Dixon and Cynthia Denise Talley and former teacher Priscilla Johnson were each indicted for various offenses against the students including striking, restraining and holding them down.
In a group of statements released by the district about the charges, East Texas Advanced Academies Interim Executive Director James Brewer said “I am confident that the actions taken by the LISD special education department since October have remediated any concern related to the provision of services in the life skills classroom at JLE.”