Preliminary approval for 24/7 cameras at Duxbury school - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Preliminary approval for 24/7 cameras at Duxbury school

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The debate over 24/7 surveillance cameras at one Vermont school is heating up.

Wednesday, the Harwood Union School Board gave preliminary approval to a plan that would have cameras recording around the clock at its Middle/High School.

But not all parents, students, or board members think it's a good idea.

The surveillance cameras aren't recording during the school day inside Harwood Union Middle/High School but that could soon change.

"My personal opinion is that I think the cameras are a good idea," said parent Rosemarie White.

But fellow parent Rob Williams countered, "Running the surveillance cameras during the day is an invasion of privacy and I am strongly opposed."

A recent stretch of crime on campus -- including extensive flooding last spring that resulted from vandals clogging many of the school's drains -- has the Harwood Union School Board considering a policy that would have cameras operating both inside and outside of the building 24/7.

"What it does is it provides us with data, imperfect data but more data than we have now in order to solve a problem, and the problem here is catching people and holding them accountable for their actions," explained Chris Koliba, of the Harwood Union School Board.

Wednesday, the school board gave preliminary approval to the proposal.

Right now the outdoor cameras are on around the clock, but the indoor cameras are only on when school is not in session.

Board member David Goodman argued that's how things should stay -- as the only member to oppose the changes.

"We are sending a message to our students when we say that while they are present in this building, they are here not only as learners but as suspects," Goodman explained.

But just like their parents and the board, those students are also divided over whether or not the added surveillance is a good idea.

"During the day I think some students deserve their privacy in the hall just doing their own thing and most of the kids are relatively respectable kids," said senior Tucker Touchette.

But fellow senior Sam Robinson said, "I am not too concerned about it because I feel like it doesn't affect my life in a negative way, if anything it is going to help the school be a better place." 

The policy says the footage can only be watched on an "as needed" basis by certain administrators and must be deleted within a month unless it is being used as part of an investigation.

The camera policy cannot be officially approved until it has gone through a second vote at a future meeting. That will include a public comment session and is scheduled for Nov. 21.

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