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New proposal would allow surveillance cameras in special needs classes

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BATON ROUGE - Surveillance cameras may soon protect the most vulnerable children in Louisiana schools.

Senate Bill 39 would allow parents of special needs students to request a camera be installed in their classrooms to monitor activity.

"Sometimes these kids can be challenging. But these kids are also very vulnerable, and they need to be protected," Senator Franklin Foil said. "And this protects them when they can't speak out or advocate for themselves." 

He says installing the cameras would cost about $7 million, with each camera costing about $5,000.

"People are supportive of having the cameras, but we have to find the funding and I think we can."

Shawn Fleming with the Developmental Disabilities Council works closely with parents of children with special needs. After hearing several stories about their students being treated unfairly, he went to lawmakers asking for something to be done. 

"There have been incidents recently that have been causing parents to question what was going on, and cameras would answer a lot of those questions," Fleming said.

Incidents like that of Camden Davis, an autistic student attending Greater Baton Rouge Hope Academy, highlight the need for such measures. In 2018, Davis was mocked by his teacher and her aide. His mother, Milissa Davis, caught it all on tape. 

Foil hopes this bill will ensure that all special needs students like Camden will be treated fairly. 

Senate Bill 39 will be debated once the legislative session begins in March.


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