When Micah Watson, an 8-year-old with autism, came home with bruises, his parents suspected their son had been mistreated in a closet-sized “calm room” at Plano ISD’s Miller Elementary School. It took two years for the child’s mother, Bethany Watson, to finally see video from that day, which showed Micah being forced into a tiny padded room at the elementary school in Texas. The door was held shut while the child yelled, “No! No! Let me out now!” At one point the teacher egged Micah on with, “Kick me. You’ve already done it. I don’t care.” The student was knocked to the ground in an attempt to remove his shoes. When the child begged to be let out, the teacher responded, “No.”
This horrific incident led to important changes at Plano ISD and throughout the state of Texas. The teachers involved in the incident were fired. All calm room spaces at Plano schools must now be at least 50 square feet and without doors. This episode, combined with similar high-profile occurrences across the state, led Texas to pass SB507, requiring cameras in special education classrooms. Advocates of the law say the video cameras go a long way in both easing parent concerns and in protecting teachers from wrongful accusations.
The topic of video cameras in the classroom has been brewing for years. Schools that have deployed cameras in public areas have experienced dramatic safety benefits. For example, Fraser Public Schools in Michigan found that the incidents of fighting dropped to near zero. Police officers have found body cams provide an important defense against false accusations.…Read More