Madison City Schools adds cameras to special education classrooms

MADISON, Ala. (WHNT) – City of Madison Schools Superintendent Ed Nichols said the district will be adding cameras to special education classrooms. The decision comes after parents expressed their concerns to the school board.

“We’ve had parents come in for several years who have expressed that to the board,” says Dr. Ed Nichols.

One of those parents was Tiffany Smith, who has a seven-year-old son who is autistic and non-verbal.

“We pushed for more transparency, more training, cameras in the classroom so we know what’s going on,” says Tiffany Smith.

Smith says there have been allegations of misconduct by special education teachers, including with her son.

“We have kids who are nonverbal or have cognitive abilities that aren’t able to tell us what’s going on in the classroom,” Smith says.

Smith says she and other parents approached the school board about adding cameras last August.

“I wish we could say it was because of our protest or our petition, but I don’t believe that’s what got us to this point,” Smith says.

Nichols says the district has cameras in all school buildings and even on buses. There is currently no law in Alabama that requires cameras in special education classrooms. Nichols says the district needed to take the time to put a policy in place before setting up cameras in classrooms.

“And I felt like we had to get our teachers on board first, you know, that’s them in the room. And use them in a way that both parent and teacher feel comfortable,” says Nichols. “If there are any concerns in the class, it can help us communicate them to both parties.”

Smith says she’s thrilled that cameras are being added, but she adds that there’s still work to be done.

“It’s a ‘we’ situation, not a ‘me’ situation. I can stand up for my kid all day, but really, we have to stand up for everyone who doesn’t have a voice,” Smith says.

Smith thinks state law should mandate cameras in special needs classrooms in every school district.

“And I think it’s important for all parents with special needs to stand up to the council, to the state, and to demand more,” Smith says.

Nichols says the first cameras will be installed in classrooms at Discovery Middle School and James Clemens High School during the summer break. The newly built SPED wing at Bob Jones will also have them when it opens. Nichols then says they will be added to Liberty Middle School and the rest of the schools in increments.


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