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South under surveillance?

Posted By Dan Agarkov On April 14, 2010 @ 3:30 am In News | Comments Disabled

Principal Joel Stembridge and Newton North principal Jenn Price wrote a joint proposal for the installation of security cameras in both high schools and submitted it to Interim Superintendent James Marini.

The proposal, presented last week, sets the date of installation for this summer.
According to Marini, the two schools would have to bypass the current School Committee policy regarding security cameras. The current policy states that if cameras are needed, they can only be installed for a limited amount of time to deal with a specific problem.

The School Committee would have to vote on changing this policy to allow for permanent cameras.

“Nothing can happen until the committee changes its policy, Marini said, adding that he agrees with the idea to install cameras, as long as everyone in the schools knows about them.

“[I agree with] whatever it takes to keep schools safe, he said, “but people need to be informed.

According to Stembridge, the main reason for the cameras would be to act as a deterrent against theft and vandalism. The cameras would be marked and students would know where they are located. If an incident were to occur, however, the principal and housemasters would review the recordings to determine the perpetrator.

Stembridge said that theft has become so common that students do not even report it anymore, and that this year’s pulled fire alarms have been another major issue.

“I am frustrated that we haven’t been able to apprehend any students [who pulled the fire alarm], Stembridge said. “Kids are tired of fire alarms and theft.
Before submitting the proposal, Stembridge reviewed it with the housemasters and asked for their feedback. If the proposal were to be approved by the superintendent, the housemasters would begin meeting to discuss the details of the plan. Goldrick Housemaster Henry Turner thinks that the cameras are needed for the purpose of safety but that students’ rights are a sensitive issue.
“As a school we have to support students’ rights but we also need to keep kids safe, Turner said.

Stembridge and Price have worked on the letter to the superintendent for over a month, but Stembridge emphasized that the idea is still in the planning stages. He also acknowledged that some students will be unhappy with the idea, but said he is confident that the cameras will help to reduce crime.

“We do lose a little bit of naiveté but we gain far more when students don’t have to worry about theft, Stembridge said.

According to Stembridge, if Marini were to approve the proposal, the next step would be for the School Committee to approve it.

Stembridge said that he wants to gain input from the School Council and the South Senate as well.

“As we’re going forward, people will have a chance to voice their concerns, Stembridge said.

According to Senate President and senior Ben Chelmow, the Senate has had no input on the proposal so far, but that Stembridge plans to attend a Senate meeting this spring to discuss it.

“I’m happy that he’s taking our opinions into account, but I don’t know how much say we’re going to have in the actual proposal, Chelmow said, adding that he thinks the cameras are a good idea.

“I’ve had things stolen from me over the years and I’d like to see measures put in place that would help prevent future incidents, Chelmow said.

As president, Chelmow’s aim is to represent the opinions of the student body, and he realizes that there will be a wide spectrum of opinions.

“The Senate will hopefully voice as many student opinions as possible, Chelmow said. “If there are students who have qualms about the cameras, their voices should be heard through the Senate.

Many students support the idea because, like Chelmow, they have had personal belongings stolen in the past.

Sophomore Dan Rozenblum thinks that cameras are a good idea, but said that the number of cameras should be limited and that recordings should be reviewed only when it is absolutely necessary.

“If they weren’t just used to spy on kids, but [for authorities] to find out who stole something or who performed vandalism then it’s a good idea, Rozenblum said, “but they shouldn’t be used for any other reason.

On the other hand, some feel that the installation of cameras would be a violation of privacy and an unnecessary measure. Sophomore Dana Cohen-Kaplan said that cameras would make him uncomfortable.

“It’s an infringement on privacy, Rozenblum said. “People become self-conscious when they know they’re being watched.

The School Committee will consider and vote on changing the policy and installing the cameras within coming months.

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Article printed from Denebola: http://www.denebolaonline.net

URL to article: http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/04/14/south-under-surveillance/

URLs in this post:

[1] Security issues pose concerns at South: Do security cameras infringe on student rights?: http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/05/21/security-issues-pose-concerns-at-south-do-security-cameras-infringe-on-student-rights/

[2] No more secret security: http://www.denebolaonline.net/2008/11/26/no-more-secret-security/

[3] Camera count rises from 10-12 to 50-60: http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/11/02/camera-count-rises-from-10-12-to-50-60/

[4] Senate considers Student Evaluation of Teachers Bill: http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/02/10/senate-considers-student-evaluation-of-teachers-bill/

[5] School Committee permits camera use: http://www.denebolaonline.net/2008/11/26/school-committee-permits-camera-use/

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