JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A bill in the Florida legislature would open the door for cameras to be placed in public school classrooms and microphones to be placed on teachers.
Sponsors are branding Florida House Bill 1055 as a surveillance measure to prevent abuse and/or neglect by teachers or students.
If passed, the proposed law would not require districts to install the equipment — but would require each public school board to consider and vote on the concept by January 1, 2023.
The classroom footage collected would be controlled by the respective school’s principal and, in the event of an incident that requires law enforcement investigation, the footage would be redacted to shield the students’ identity. Law enforcement, the Florida Department of Children and Families, the parents of any child involved in the incident, and other relevant staff members would be able to review the redacted footage.
Michelle Dillon, president of the St. Johns Education Association, said the very suggestion of this measure reinforces a problematic narrative that teachers are not to be trusted.
“I believe there are some people in the public arena who are trying to create a mistrust, not just of teachers, but of public education in general,” Dillon said. “It’s just noise, it’s a distraction from the real issues of staff shortages and the lack of meaningful pay. We need to trust our educators again.”
Vicki Kidwell, president of the Clay County Education Association, said the bill represents an ineffective solution to a nonexistent problem.
“It’s just a lot of energy wasted on something that is wrongheaded, destructive to a profession that’s already in low morale,” Kidwell said. “We [the teachers] are made out to be villains and we don’t see the energy being put into fixing the problems that we have.”
News4JAX reached out to the bill’s sponsor, state Rep. Bob Rommel, R-Collier, to ask about his motivation for filing it — but didn’t get an immediate response.