As required by recent legislation, the Gold Trail Board of Education passed a Video Surveillance Policy at its Jan. 25 open board meeting.
The Board of Education authorizes the least intrusive use of video surveillance on school property, including in schools, on school grounds, and on buses where circumstances have shown that it is necessary for enhancing the safety of students, the security of an individual’s belongings and the protection of school property.
Board chair Valerie Adrian said the District had no plans to install any cameras at this time, and that any request for a camera would come from individual School Planning Councils (SPC).
District staff can also decide which schools need cameras, but the SPC has to approve it.
The District does have a camera in place in Lytton, but it was installed prior to the legislation.
Adrian said the District staff would work on the regulations governing the policy now that it was approved. “The viewing process will be addressed in those regulations,” she said.
Trustee Carmen Ranta asked that alert signs be installed in the schools where there were cameras.
“I believe in giving people a heads up,” she said at the Jan. 25 meeting. “People have a right to know they are under surveillance.”
Education Minister Margaret MacDiarmid stated recently that almost half of BC’s 60 school districts already used surveillance cameras.
“There is an overwhelmingly positive response from those districts regarding the value of video surveillance in deterring damage and vandalism and improving decorum in public areas.”
The BC Civil Liberties Association and BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association filed a joint submission opposing the proposed legislation last year.
“We believe this bill is going to usher in a needless, costly and harmful expansion of video surveillance in our schools.” stated the BCCLA. “Study after study shows that video surveillance has very limited utility. It might be justified in a computer lab where there have been a series of reported thefts, but it should never be used to generally monitor student behaviour.”