School Board OKs Policies on Recordings, Surveys

The Derry School Board approved two policies in a second reading at the Nov. 24 meeting.

Approved were Policy EEAA, regarding video and audio surveillance on school property, and Policy ILDA, regarding non-educational questionnaires, surveys and research.

Policy EEAA is required by RSA 189.68 and is also required to have a public hearing. There were no speakers in the public hearing.

The policy calls for the board to authorize the use of video and/or audio devices on school property to ensure the “health, welfare and safety” of staff, students and visitors, and authorizes the Superintendent to approve appropriate locations for surveillance devices. The policy states that students, staff and visitors have “no reasonable expectation of privacy” in public areas or events.

However, the policy also requires that recording equipment be placed in classrooms only after School Board approval following a public hearing. The policy provides for written permission from the classroom teacher and parent/ guardian of all students before recording equipment is placed in a classroom.

Board member Mark Beland made suggestions concerning the verbiage of the policy, noting that it starts out talking about both video and audio recordings and in later paragraphs refers only to video recordings and videotapes. He suggested changing all verbiage to “recordings.” “If we get the technology out and just call it ‘recordings,’ I’m good to go,” Beland said.

The board agreed to make the changes.

In addition, the policy allows the district to keep copies of recordings until they are erased and allows the district to keep recordings in case of a violation of student conduct rules or state or federal law, until the misconduct charge is no longer subject to review.

Recordings may be reviewed by the district for discipline and evaluation purposes and may become a part of a student’s educational record or staff member’s personnel record.

The board voted unanimously to approve the policy.

Policy ILDA requires parents/guardians to be notified at least 10 days before the district administers a non-academic questionnaire or survey to students. Parents/guardians will be allowed to review the survey or questionnaire upon request, and may opt out of having their child take the survey or questionnaire. The opt-out notice must be in writing.

“Non-academic survey or questionnaire” is defined as surveys, questionnaires or other documents designed to elicit information about a student’s social behavior, family life, religion, politics, sexual orientation, sexual activity, drug use or any other information not related to academics.

The board also voted unanimously to approve this policy.