MADISON, Ala. (WHNT) — Madison City Schools Superintendent Ed Nichols says the district will be adding cameras to special education classrooms. The decision comes after parents expressed concerns to the board of education.
“We’ve had some parents come for several years and express that to the board,” says Dr. Ed Nichols.
One of those parents was Tiffany Smith, who has a seven year old son who is autistic and nonverbal.
“We’ve been pushing for more transparency, more training, cameras in the classroom so we know what’s going on,” says Tiffany Smith.
Smith says there have been allegations of misconduct by special education faculty, including with her son.
“We have children that are nonverbal or have cognitive abilities that aren’t able to tell us what happens in the classroom,” says Smith.
Smith says she and other parents addressed the school board about adding cameras last August.
“I wish we could say it was due to our protesting or petition but I just don’t believe that’s what got us to this point,” says Smith.
Nichols says the district has cameras throughout school buildings and even on buses. There is currently not a law in Alabama that requires cameras in special education classrooms. Nichols says the district needed to take the time to put a policy in place before implementing cameras in the classrooms.
“And I felt like we first had to get buy in from our teachers, you know they are the ones in the room. And use them in such a way that both the parent and the teacher would feel comfortable,” says Nichols. “If there is any concerns in the classroom that can help us to communicate those to both parties.”
Smith says she is pleased cameras are being added, but she adds there is more work to be done.
“Its a ‘we’ not a ‘me’ situation. I can advocate for my child all day long, but in reality, we have to advocate for anyone who doesn’t have a voice,” says Smith.
Smith believes state law should mandate cameras in special needs classrooms in every school district.
“And I think it’s important for all the special needs parents to stand up to the board, to the state and demand more,” says Smith.
Nichols says the first cameras will be installed in classrooms at Discovery Middle School and James Clemens High School over summer break. The newly built SPED wing at Bob Jones will also have them when it opens. Nichols says then they will be added to Liberty Middle School and the rest of the schools in increments.