Proposed Md. bill could help protect special education students, teachers in abuse allegations
MARYLAND – Maryland lawmakers are considering House Bill 226, which would require cameras to be installed in public school special education classrooms. The bill would also require schools to report alleged incidents of abuse to law enforcement.
The video captured would be used to investigate claims of abuse against students within the schools. “These children get off the bus from school and they cannot talk to their parents about their day,” said bill sponsor Delegate Michele Guyton. “They can’t share the positives and the great things, and they can’t answer parent concerns, even if the child is clearly upset – even if that child is literally bruised and broken at the end of the day.”
The bill has been introduced in previous sessions, but never made it to Governor Larry Hogan’s desk. This session, language in the bill has been clarified to address confidentiality and monitoring. That means the video will not randomly monitored, or used in teacher evaluations.
Last week, the Ways and Means Committee sat down to hear the bill. Committee member Delegate Wayne Hartman says he thinks it could not only better protect vulnerable students, but educators as well. “If a student comes home with some type of injury, did it happen on the bus? Did it happen in the classroom? We’re involving non-verbal students in this who can’t express what happened. So, I think it can protect the teachers as much as it can protect the student,” he said.
If the bill passes, the cameras would have to be installed by the 2022-2023 school year. “It’s time for us to stop making excuses, and ask ourselves what we would do if they were our children,” said Del. Guyton.