Big Brother Keeping Tabs On Students

New technology is helping Guilford County school leaders keep an eye on your kids.

Greensboro, NC — The district installed the first surveillance cameras more than a decade ago, but an upgrade now gives leaders a look from three angles.

“There’s really no way to hide from them,” Jeff Harris, transportation director for Guilford County Schools said about the new school bus cameras.

No matter where you sit on one of 82 Guilford County school buses, anything you do will be caught on camera.

“We can leave the camera hard drive on the bus and let it just continuously record the student behavior or any kind of actions on the bus,” said Harris.

The cameras record any action or conversation. “Each camera at each mounted location has a microphone,” he said.

Each bus equipped with a surveillance system has three different cameras, picking up three different angles of activity on the school bus.

That means it’s virtually impossible to do anything and not get filmed.

Harris hopes the cameras cut down on problems, stemming from students or drivers. “If there’s a problem where a student accuses a driver of something, one of the cameras catches the driver area,” he said.

Video surveillance caught this 2005 struggle between a student and a bus driver in Charlotte County, Florida.

A year later, two sisters attacked a fellow student in New Mexico.

Whether it’s a fight like those, or something like vandalism, any inappropriate behavior will be harder to hide.

“If they’re covering up this camera at this angle, then that camera in the front is capturing who is messing with this camera,” said Harris, pointing to the two cameras focused on bus seats.

The district installed cameras in 82 out of 634 buses. The plan is to add a few more each year, depending on how much it costs to get buses around their routes.

“We’ll have to see what fuel costs are looking like for the future, and then that will determine what we can use money for,” Harris said.

Guilford County Schools picked up the $148,000 tab using taxpayer dollars. Middle school principals helped decide which buses to outfit with cameras

They each identified four or five buses at their schools with the most discipline problems.

The new cameras can record up to 15 days of activity, compared to the old cameras, which could capture only 45 to 60 minutes at a time.

Guilford County Schools isn’t the only system using video surveillance on school buses.

Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools have a limited number in use. Rockingham County Schools purchased cameras for roughly half of their buses at the beginning of the 2007/2008 school year.

Source: WFMY News 2

Copyright: 2008