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Poll: Video Surveillance In High Schools

Readers weigh in on Fairfax County Public Schools proposal

The Fairfax County High School Principals Association and the schools’ Department of Facilities and Transportation Services 

Administrators say the program could help them curb disciplinary issues like food fights, physical altercations or drug dealing.

School officials estimate installing the cameras in cafeterias would cost about $8,000 dollars per school; a school-wide interior deployment would cost about $120,000 dollars.

Initial costs would be largely covered by the principals' association, they said, but “ongoing replacement, monitoring, storage … that cost would fall on the school board,” school board member Stu Gibson (Hunter Mill) said.

Some local community members, including those in Fairfax Zero Tolerance reform, which drove much of the late last spring, says the language used in the principals’ proposal doesn’t indicate its main focus is preventing the bad behavior.

“This is not about prevention. If it were about prevention and deterrence of activities that could be dangerous then that would be one thing. But principals and administrators are still going to be on duty in the cafeteria. There’s no data that suggests these [interior] cameras will be a deterrent at all,” FZTR Communications Director Michele Menapace said on Friday.

Others, like Gibson, say its a privacy issue.

“The zones of privacy people have these days are shrinking and I don’t think school system should be a part of shrinking what little privacy people have,” Gibson said.

The issue comes before the school board again at an Oct. 17 work session. Would you support video surveillance? Weigh in on our poll above.

To read the full story

Richard Holmquist September 22, 2011 at 12:44 AM
Heather, was Jack Nicklaus talking about my golf swing. How'd he get that on tape?!
Mike Kane September 22, 2011 at 04:14 PM
My name is Mike Kane and I'm running for the VA house of delegates in the 41st district. I do not support cameras in any schools in Virginia. The whole idea really infringes on students privacy, and will serve as a distraction. Please visit my website www.kanefordelegate.com for more information.
KB September 22, 2011 at 11:47 PM
Michael Deale...I will certainly introduce myself if I can find you. I would like to tell you, though, that FCPS only ADVERTISES that it has a PBIS program in place. It is true that some elementary schools do have very organized and successful PBIS programs - but it is certainly not something that is in place in every elementary school. Furthermore, I would venture to say that you would be hard pressed to find a PBIS system in middle schools - and even harder pressed in high schools. Don't get me wrong - there will be principals who TELL you their school has a PBIS program, but ask the students and they will have no idea what you are talking about. If students are not aware of a positive behavior system, there isn't one! That said, I absolutely agree with you that we should spend money on educating and helping, rather than catching and punishing. The latter seems to be the school system's approach to everything - and is definitely the motivation behind the camera proposal.
Laura B. September 23, 2011 at 12:18 AM
Both the elementary schools my children have attended use PBIS techniques. Many children seem to respond favorably to them, but I'm afraid my own kids thought they were idiotic. I did point out that it made sure students were praised for good behavior and not merely chastised when caught breaking rules, and they agreed it sounded good, but was still lame. So, like so many things, it depends on the student.
mary hartness October 21, 2011 at 08:26 PM
Until you people have been in the middle of a food fight in a HUGE cafeteria with hundreds of kids, watch what you say! I'm a student and it was ugly and aweful! I wish the administrators knew who did it so that those people could get punished. Lots of us who were innocent were supposed to nark on our peers. I didn't want to get involved. Bring in the cameras so we can catch the aweful beahvior. ALso, it might help get the kids who sell drugs. Guess what parents - kids sell drugs all over high schools... welcome to 2011!

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