Teachers Want to Stop Fights With Snapshots
But School Board Opposes the Plan, Citing Student Privacy
By DEAN SCHABNER
Dec. 17, 2004 — Philip Rumore, the president of the Buffalo, N.Y., teachers union, is frustrated with the city school board's response to what he says is a rise in violence in the schools, so he wants to make sure they see what is really happening.
Rumore wants to arm every teacher in the district with what he hopes will be a weapon against violence — a disposable camera, so they can take photographs to document any fights or other acts of violence that occur. He said any photographs would be turned over directly to the district administration to doThe plan has not sat well with the school district, but Rumore said there has already been too much violence and too little response from the administration.
"It seems to me that the incidents of violence were more severe and the district really wasn't dealing with it," Rumore said. "When I talked about this they said, 'You're making the district look bad,' and I said, 'No, the violence is making the district look bad.' "
Buffalo Public Schools spokesman Andrew Maddigan said if there is a violence problem at the city's schools, having teachers snapping photos of incidents isn't going to help.
"It sends entirely the wrong message to students," he said. "It tells them, 'We expect you to misbehave.' To some students, it could be seen as a challenge, to see if they could get a teacher to pull out a camera. It also creates another barrier between the students and the teachers."
The district's lawyers are examining the legal issues that might be involved in having teachers taking students' pictures, and there are "major concerns regarding FERPA," Maddigan said, referring to the Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act, which includes among its protections student privacy rights.
He said the district could lose federal funding if there were FERPA violations, and said the district could take action against any teachers who start photographing students.
"We have to tell our teachers that you're risking punishment," he said. "You do so at the risk of your career. We don't enjoy doing that, we want to be supportive of what they do, but we have to."cument incidents and help with any investigation, whether by police or the district itself....
This is incredible. First of all, that the idea of getting their pictures taken would deter these "bad" kids from fighting... I don't know about you, but the main thing I was afraid of was catching hell from my parents if I'd gotten in trouble in school. This isn't a deterrant any more. In fact, kids are more brazen when their parents are there. So what is the purpose of taking their pictures being bad? Is it so there's proof? Just because cops used ESPN video to nail the culprits in the Pacers/Pistons riot, now someone thinks that's gonna work in schools?
The second thing is about invasion of privacy. Come on. Taking pictures of fighting kids as an invasion of privacy? That is ridiculous. What is this country coming to? Please!