Bill allowing cameras in Louisiana’s special needs classrooms moves to governor’s desk

    BRIEF

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    A bill requiring schools to install cameras in special needs classrooms if requested by a child’s guardian passed unanimously in the Louisiana House of Representatives Monday.

    Rep. Mark Wright (R-Covington), who brought SB 86 to the House floor on behalf of Sen. Franklin Foil (R-Baton Rouge), said many special needs classrooms have about five students each — most of whom are nonverbal “and cannot communicate like normal children… and have a difficult time advocating for themselves.”

    When the bill was introduced to Senate Education last month, Mary Elizabeth Christian, an East Baton Rouge mother, said her daughter Grace who has autism, epilepsy and a neuromuscular disorder was tied up in a chair during her preschool.

    “My beautiful curly headed girl had been strapped to a chair every day,” Christian said during the committee meeting. “I think this bill is another step in protecting our children. Children who cannot speak for themselves and are vulnerable.”

    Sen. Cleo Fields (D-Baton Rouge), chair of the committee, said last month special education students being abused unknowingly “is a problem and hopefully this bill will get through the process and address the problem.”

    “This is just one step in the right direction,” Fields said during the committee meeting.

    According to the legislation, the footage is to be kept confidential and can only be accessed by the school superintendent, a parent or guardian of a recorded student or law enforcement. Cameras are also prohibited from being placed in an area where students change or remove their clothing.

    The bill moves to the Governor’s desk for signature.