The Legalities of Surveillance Cameras | Neufeld, Kleinbuerg & Pinkiert
Surveillance cameras are a great way to address violence in our schools, but some legal issues may arise that only an attorney is equipped to handle.
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The Legalities
of Surveillance Cameras

The Legalities
of Surveillance Cameras

By: Jason Neufeld
Posted in: Negligent Security

School security has undergone significant changes over the past years. It’s the natural thing to happen as crime and violence increases in our schools. One of the most popular measures is the use of surveillance cameras. Many public schools have already implemented security cameras as part of their School Safety Plan. While surveillance cameras are a great way to address violence in our schools, some legal issues may arise that only an experienced personal injury attorney is equipped to handle.

Right of privacy

Some parents are concerned about the privacy of their children. While the main purpose of these cameras may not be keeping our children safe or stopping a violent incident, they help document what happened. Attorneys can use this valuable information to prove that the victim’s injuries were caused by someone else’s negligence.

However, when schools fail to implement reasonable safety measures to protect students, they are liable if the injuries or harm happens as a result. As president Trump had said when talking about school safety: “Technology is an extra tool, and technology is only as good as the human element behind it.” In other words, the school needs to have a good system in place and parents, as well as the community, should get involved otherwise crime will prevail in our schools.

Some legalities

The 4th Amendment forbids unreasonable searches and seizures by public schools or the government. However, security cameras don’t require conducting searches or seizures but they rather record images. Also, drug testing of students participating in some specific activities is allowed as long as there is a good reason for this search. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, which protects the student records and confidentiality says that in some specific circumstances, these recordings are considered education records. These images may be disclosed to third parties, including media with lawful access.

Improving security

Many schools that use security cameras believe they discourage disorderly conduct while some parents feel they invade the student’s privacy. Courts, on the other hand, have held that as long as these cameras are placed in public locations where the students don’t have a reasonable expectation of privacy, there is no unreasonable seizure, unless the camera was placed in a restroom or locker room.

Schools considering the use of security cameras should:

  • Implement policies and outline its use.
  • Place these surveillance cameras only in public areas.
  • Inform the community that these cameras have been placed in the school property and students, as well as anyone on the property, will be videotaped.
  • Don’t use cameras that record conversations.

Accessing the recordings

These recordings generally capture only images of students and staff so most times, these images are not preserved. However, when these recordings capture misconduct, school administrators keep these records for school disciplinary purposes.

How an attorney can help

There are times when students sustain injuries through negligent school security. If you or a loved one has suffered bodily injury due to the property owner’s negligence, whether in a school or any other place, you have the right to hire an attorney to protect your interests.