“In a time where support for teachers is lacking and students think they have a right to behave as they will, surveillance cameras in classrooms–especially classrooms like shop and carpentry–should be standard anyway,” said jwhiteaker. “We think nothing of walking into a store that has surveillance equipment.”

“Where are the records of the times that this teacher sent discipline requests in? asked okayfine87. “The students are videotaped on the buses, in hallways, and in other PUBLIC places [with] no written consent from parents [needed]. The students were warned that they would be videotaped for behavior reasons and still continued the behaviors that are unsafe to themselves and their teacher.”

“If one is in a situation where one feels so at risk as to use a personal device to contact the authorities, would that be considered a breach of district policy? It would NOT,” said dinapie. “Then why is it against district policy to use the same device as a recorder to gain the same level of protection against an abusive man? He may be in his late teens, but the student was obviously physically abusive. The teacher simply used the SAME device that he would have used to make a 911 call. It was just easier to push the record button. If a paramedic can use his/her cell phone to record a gruesome scene and not be exposed to suit, then a teacher (another civil servant) should have that same right.”

“We are being videoed as we drive down the roads, walk into a bank, shop in stores, take a pleasant walk, eat in restaurants, and more,” argued Doris Settles, author of Understanding i-KIDS. “Digitally recording without permission is a normal part of our everyday life. We don’t live in a world where privacy, particularly as it pertains to rude, unsafe and threatening behaviors, is a consideration. Students are videoed as they walk down the hall in most schools. When an accident or rude event occurs anywhere on the planet people whip out their cell phones to upload it to YouTube or sell to news networks. So why shouldn’t this teacher be allowed to document behavioral issues that interfere with his ability to do his job? Why was it the teacher who was penalized when the students were breaking the schools code of conduct?”

Legal ramifications of videotaping students

Some readers cited legal reasons to support Drake’s case.

“The school district is in CYA mode,” wrote the cman. “If the facts are correct and the video corroborates the teacher’s allegations, then he should not have been disciplined. The recording of students should fall under the time, place, and manor rule. It is a First Amendment issue. Basically the classroom is not a private place. Any certified educator can observe the goings on. The camera was not hidden, other students were present, from the report, and the student behavior was not provoked. The video should stand as evidence of the teacher’s actions. If the teacher were to have posted the video in a public forum like YouTube, then that would have violated FERPA for all of the students in the recording. If, on the other hand, he turned the recording over the administration, it would be appropriate. Why is everyone so scared as to allow common sense to be trumped by the threat of litigation?”

Saul Troen, Ph.D., a consultant for the SmartClassroom, offered this suggestion for educators who want to record classroom behavior to document it for officials: