House Bill 1055 (pdf), filed by Republican state Rep. Bob Rommel for the upcoming 2022 legislative session, creates a set of rules about how classroom cameras should be placed and under what circumstances the video and audio recordings should be made available for public viewing.
Under the bill, each camera must be located at the front of classrooms so that it is capable of monitoring the entire classroom. School districts would be required to inform students, parents, and school employees assigned to classrooms before installing the cameras, and submit a written explanation to the school principal and the district school board in case of an interruption in the operation of the video camera.
The bill would allow parents to request footage for personal viewing if cameras capture an alleged “incident” involving abuse or neglect toward a student by a teacher, faculty member, or another student. The faces of students not directly involved in the incident will be blurred in order to protect their privacy.
The bill calls for schools to retain copies of video recordings for at least three months, and to not use the recording to evaluate teachers or for “any purpose other than for ensuring the health, safety, and well-being of students in the classroom.”
The proposal comes as more parents become concerned over what their children are exposed to at school and seek to monitor teachers in a similar way the public monitors police conduct using body cameras.
One of the proponents of the classroom cameras is Arizona’s Kari Lake, a Donald Trump-endorsed candidate for the 2022 Republican generational nomination. Lake’s proposal was pushed back by other Republican candidates as well as the outgoing Gov. Doug Ducey, who said at a press conference that it could open a door for “predators” to monitor children.
In an interview with The Arizona Sun Times, Lake dismissed such criticism, clarifying that the cameras will be filming the teachers, not the students. “They want to convince you that cameras will be on for any Tom, Dick, and Harry to log in and watch classes—that’s preposterous and they know it,” she told the outlet. “The proposals we have seen offer the ability for parents to gain access to their child’s lecture, should they find out that anti-Americanism, Marxism or any perverted curriculum is being pushed.”
Three U.S. states so far have enacted laws permitting or requiring cameras to be placed in certain classrooms. Texas in 2015 became the first state to require districts to conduct video and audio surveillance in special education settings upon request as a means to protect students who are not able to report mistreatment due to disabilities. Similar laws passed in Georgia in 2016, followed by West Virginia in 2019.