Clover Superintendent: Cameras in special Ed classrooms likely to happen in future

- The Superintendent of Clover School District told FOX 46 on Monday that cameras in district special education classrooms will likely happen in the future.

"I see both sides, I think long-term, I think more cameras are coming, I think it's just our society as a whole, and so my guess is at some point we will have them in the clover school district," Dr. Marc Sosne said. "My expectation is that I will have a recommendation for the school board prior to the beginning of next school year."

Clover School District has been researching the feasibility of putting cameras in the classrooms ever since parents called for it at the district's February school board meeting.

That meeting was held days after FOX 46's exclusive investigative report aired regarding allegations of abuse of autistic children at Larne Elementary School in February of 2014.

A FOX 46 open records request revealed some of the allegations included autistic children being knocked out of chairs, and left in dark rooms and closets to enforce different kinds of negative consequences.

A district internal investigation found the abuse claims could not be corroborated.

After the story aired, several angry parents showed up to the school board meeting, accusing the district of mishandling the investigation, and demanding cameras be installed in the classrooms.

"At last month's school board meeting we had a number of parents speak to us about concerns about our special Ed program, and a number of parents requested specifically that we put cameras in special education classrooms," Dr. Sosne said. "The next morning I had a lengthy conversation with our school board attorney to look into it. We've researched it for the last month, I've learned some things I didn't know, the school board attorney is continuing to get more information about it, and she will be sharing that with me.

That information was publicly revealed during Monday night's March school board meeting, where the district's legal representation presented her research, but did not make a recommendation.

"She's been doing a lot of research for me, she's contacted the state department of special Ed, and the department of education in Columbia, about what they know about cameras in special Ed classrooms in South Carolina," Dr. Sosne said.

More research has to be done before a recommendation is made, but Dr. Sosne said money won't be the issue, as the estimated cost for each camera is about $1,000.

"The funding part is not an issue in clover, the real issue is really privacy and parental rights and individual student rights," Dr. Sosne said. "If we were to put cameras in special education classrooms, and there was a digital tape, who would have access to it? How would you protect the privacy of other students, especially special Ed students who obviously have special needs and other people would have access to viewing them"?

Dr. Sosne told FOX 46 he sees both sides of the issue, and has spoken to faculty to get their opinions.

"Some of our teachers feel like if the school board were to mandate it, it perhaps could show a lack of trust or confidence in what teachers do, and yet other teachers at those same meetings are saying I would value having a camera in my classroom, I'm a professional I do a great job and I have nothing to hide, and if there ever was a parent who questioned me, I would love to have a digital record showing I know what I'm doing," Sosne said.

Dr. Sosne asked the school board for more time to research the issue, and said he will report back next month.

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