The Southern Lehigh School Board discussed a proposal to place security cameras throughout the high school at its meeting on Monday night.
The proposal that was brought to the Board was a request for “approval to install security cameras in areas of the high school that are often occupied by large numbers of people.”
According to School Board Vice President Jeff Dimmig, the district did not allow security cameras to be placed inside of any of the school buildings in the past and that this request was mainly to approve the privacy change.
The cameras that are located on the outside of the high school were upgraded this year and the district found that they had four cameras that were being unused. Due to this excess and after the district’s State Safety Audit, the Facilities Committee decided to approach the option of placing security cameras within the high school to help contain some issues that have been happening at the building recently.
After some discussion, the Board decided that the most appropriate place for a security camera would be in the high school cafeteria because that is where most of the problems have been occurring. There have been food fights in the cafeteria that have been a problem for the staff at the high school because it has been tough to find the source of the fight.
The Facilities Committee felt that placing a security camera in the cafeteria would help with this issue specifically because the staff would be able to see who started the fight and reprimand them immediately instead of spending days on the subject.
The Committee plans on using one of the excess cameras owned by the district in the cafeteria, but the installation would cost almost $800, according to Dimmig.
“We realize that there are circumstances that override the privacy issues,” stated School Board President Dr. Thomas McLoughlin after some board members expressed opposition of the proposal.
The opposing members were mainly concerned about giving too much independence to the Facilities Committee.
School Board Treasurer Corinne Gunkle stated that she did not want to give permission for the committee to just place cameras anywhere they wanted in the high school. Gunkle, as well as some other Board Members, did not want to approve of the request as it was originally worded.
After further discussion, the Board decided to approve of the request to install a security camera in the cafeteria and that any future camera installations were subject to Board approval. The motion was passed with only one opposing vote. Dimmig voted against the motion because he felt that it was not realistic to get Board approval for each and every security camera that the committee would like to place in the high school.