With more cameras in schools than ever before, the Oregon school board updated its policy on electronic surveillance Monday night for the first time since 2005.
Few changes were made to the district’s policy on electronic surveillance – mostly expanding beyond Oregon High School and clarifying how they are already being used. But district superintendent Brian Busler said they were important to keep the schools up to date and to let students, staff and school visitors know when and where they’re being monitored.
The changes were prompted by the district receiving two grants this past school year from the Wisconsin Department of Justice School Safety Grant program, including money for cameras.
District policy previously had been limited to OHS, so “we just cleaned out all references to OHS and made them district references,” Busler told the Observer on Tuesday. He said as the district expands its use of cameras, it was important to update district policy on their usage.
“Our focus is on safety and security for students, and now we have a policy up to date with that,” he said. “There have been significant technological changes with cameras since 2005. That’s good news when we can have the State of Wisconsin help us in our investment.”
Also, policy wording was changed to reflect that some cameras will now be monitored in real time. But he said cameras in schools are mainly used to ensure secure entrances and exits, with signs posted to inform people of their presence, and the policy explains that.
“We don’t really have standalone cameras that people watch, with the exception of cameras that would be watched on the entrance and exit areas, “Busler said. “We clarified that. And that real time monitoring shall not be allowed for areas inside the building except as needed for healthy, safety or maintenance reasons.”
Busler said the schools will soon have improved signage about the use of cameras in the buildings.
“It’s 2019, and everyone already knows (they’re often being recorded), but we’re going to be more (obvious) about having that signage,” he said.