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Cameras in Classrooms; Why Some Parents Say It's a Safety Precaution

LITTLE ROCK, Ark.- How can you make sure your child is safe at school, especially when they can't speak?  That's the goal some parents are trying to tackle with a new bill.

It was a crowded room at Monday's education committee meeting where the topic of cameras in self-contained special ed classrooms had parents and lawmakers debating - how far is too far- to keep kids safe in their classrooms.

"Putting a child in a hold is not a way to discipline them," says Heather Shrader, "but unfortunately that's what we're seeing."

Shrader spoke on behalf of her autistic son, saying she's had to move him to different schools several times. 

"You're at the mercy of administrators and school officials," says Shrader.

William Harrington found out that his special needs son was actually assaulted in school and there was a video.  Harrington says he wasn't able to view the clip until a month after the incident when the prosecuting attorney picked up the case.

"Some parents don't know that it's happening and that's not right," says Harrington.

The video from inside the classroom shows his then five-year-old son being dragged by a teacher, then restrained in a chair and slapped. 

"It was heart wrenching," says Harrington.

Harrington supports the cameras in classrooms bill because parents would be able to request a camera be placed in their child's special ed classroom.  The bills advocates largely for cameras in the case of suspected abuse or other special circumstances. 

"It's just been crazy," says Harrington.  "It's been a roller coaster actually to get ahold of this video."

Many lawmakers showing early support for the bill, others expressing concern about the issue of possibly going overboard with surveillance and whether the state should even be involved with implementing cameras in classrooms.

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