Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Princeton Time Opinion

November 11, 2011

Letter to the Editor: Parents question use of school bus videos

IAEGER — I am searching out to find someone to do a story that I think would bear on the minds of many parents who have been misled about the usage of video cameras and how they are now being used on our public school buses.

In McDowell County, we as parents were given a incident on Sept 14, 2011, where it involved a situation with a bus driver leaving her seat and the bus rolling back onto a very populated highway.

In this incident, parents found out when asking to view these videos, we were quoted the FERPA law. We clearly understand this law, but do not understand what rights we gave up for the usage to begin with, to allow such usage as being done with these video's mainly to discipline children, without parents being able to view such activity.

In this case it would have been to discipline a bus driver.

Our biggest concerns are the public and private usages of these videos.

Why is our state letting this happen to allow any child to be on video without the proper understanding of laws that regards privacy issues and parents’ concerns with their own children? When should a parent have to give up the right for their child to be in this situation at all?

If, indeed, these cameras are needed and are used on public buses, why in the world are parents being told they need to obtain a lawyer to get access?

We are the parents, the privacy or public use of such should be the parents decisions; we protect those rights of our children.

How could this be such a double standard on what parents are asked to sign as public viewing-v.-privacy issue against us and our children in the situation of what they call surveillance cameras? I know, as parent, I do not want my child on any form of video that requires me, as a parent, to access only by attorney.

The Department of Education cannot justify the means in which takes that right away from parents, meanwhile quoting laws of privacy issues to them.

So are the public school buses a private form of transportation? Or are they a public form of transportation?

Parents are allowed inside school functions to video/audio record, not just their children, but any children.

Photos can be used on websites/newspapers, yearbooks, etc., but this same form of signatures parents are asked to sign at the beginning of the school term is used for these video cameras and now told it’s a private issue. These forms are not correct and do not address it correctly.

Someone really needs to address the concerns of parents.

What do parents do when we cannot afford lawyers to address our Board of Education, which seems to have a handful of attorneys to protect them?

We have been in contact with Charleston Department of Transportation. We have been asking for meetings. We have been directed over and over to the laws that protect the Board of Education and transportation, but still they fail to answer to the parents why should we allow this at all, and why are we being forced to?

Parents are not seeing SAFETY being more of a concern. If a person has to give up the privacy of their children v. SAFETY, what has America came to?

— Stacie Kennedy and Deedra Blevins


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