A high school newspaper in Newton, Mass., has scored a big scoop, revealing the existence of hidden cameras in the hallways of the town’s Newton South High School. And both the school committee and teachers union want to know why they weren’t told about the cameras, which weren’t yet working.
The editors of the student newspaper wouldn’t say how they found out about the video cameras. But they say the cameras should have been discussed before they were installed this summer behind dark-tinted domes or disguised as smoke detectors.
The school board and teacher’s union agree.
Dori Zaleznik, chairwoman of the school committee, said it had not been informed about the cameras. She declined to comment further, saying the panel needed to be briefed by administrators.
Cheryl Turgel, president of the Newton Teachers Association, said the union has supported security cameras in the past, but teachers should not have learned about them from the student newspaper.
“It’s not that security cameras are taboo, it’s just the way they were done,” she told the Boston Globe for a Dec. 26 story.
Superintendent Jeffrey Young says the cameras were placed outside locker rooms and bathrooms, where officials noted several thefts of student property. He said the district spent $12,000 out of its general maintenance budget to install the cameras at the end of the summer, and the school committee was not asked to sign off on the purchase.
Young said he wasn’t sure why the cameras weren’t working, but he suspected it was a software issue. He also acknowledged to the Globe that the district didn’t introduce the security measure “in a particularly great way.”
“We need to go back now, after vacation, with both high school principals and figure out what their security needs are and what possible steps are involved, and see how we can better communicate that policy to the public,” Young said.