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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Watching Them, Watching US

An interesting access question posed by a father in Colorado:

Every day, about 6,000 children take a bus to and from school in Greeley. On most of those buses are video cameras capturing their actions. The tape gives the district a tool to determine what to do if inappropriate behavior occurs.

Parents, however, aren't allowed to review the tape, and that leaves Mike Moskalski outraged. After his son was involved in a physical altercation on a bus in April and received a 10-day suspension from the bus, he wanted to review the tape.

Moskalski said his son was defending himself and did not start the fight. The other student received the same punishment. He wanted to see the tape to make sure. But Greeley/Evans School District 6 officials told him no.

"This is not really fair," he said.

Citing a federal student privacy law, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, officials from Greeley-Evans School District 6 say they cannot release the footage from buses to the public.

District officials would not comment about any specific case.

District 6 began retrofitting buses with video cameras about seven years ago. About 80 percent of the district's buses are fitted with cameras, with a cost of about $1,200 for each vehicle.

"Bus safety is very important," said Wayne Eads, chief operations officer for District 6. "Cameras are a way to protect students, to monitor what happens."

He said to allow a parent to view any footage, the district would have to either get releases from the parents of the other children on the tape or digitally blur out their faces, both of which are not financially realistic.

"This is about protecting the child," Eads said.

But wait a minute...this is not really the sort of record protected by FERPA....and come to think of it, are there not school bus videos I have seen in any number of states made public by FOI?

Of course, if police are involved, that's another matter, like here. Or here.
Help! If you have examples, send them along!

The rest of this story here.

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