by Meredith Abrams
In order to keep a record of potential criminal activity, surveillance cameras were installed in public areas all over the building, superintendent David Fleishman said.
The School Committee made the decision to install the cameras June 14, on the recommendation of principal Jennifer Price and South principal Joel Stembridge.
“I think it’s really to do with theft and security,” Fleishman said. “We get lots of complaints about theft, and when there’s only so much we can do, students get frustrated, so hopefully this will help.”
Fleishman added that “the day and age” lends itself to increased security. “Unfortunately, we’re in a time of heightened alert.
“Our society has changed so much in the past 10 years. In any city, security cameras are everywhere; it’s a change we just have to live with.”
The cameras do impact students’ day-to-day school experience, Fleishman said. “I hope that the cameras do what they are intended to do and help reduce theft, but there won’t be a noticeable impact on students’ lives.”
Fleishman added that there is not continuous monitoring of students. Recordings will only be viewed “when a suspected crime is committed inside or outside the building,” according to the School Committee bulletin Protocol for Security Camera Recorded Data.
The policy also stated that cameras are only placed in “public areas such as hallways, athletic areas, large public gathering spaces, parking lots and public walkways,” and not placed in “areas where there may be a reasonable expectation of privacy by staff and students.” Recordings are gathered without sound, deleted every 14 days and viewed only following a specific incident.
Price believes that concerns over privacy will not be an issue. “I feel that the strict rules around viewing the cameras strike the right balance between students not feeling that we are ‘watching’ them all the time and protecting the school when something concerning happens.” Students stand to gain a safer environment from the cameras, she said.
“The cameras are as much for our collective protection during the day as they are for protecting this incredible investment in the evenings and weekends. I think the first time there is an incident, then we will feel the effect. Until then, we will not even be watching them, so I think there is minimal impact.”
Senior Rin Rogers said she disagrees. “I’ve felt safe for all four years, so I don’t see why we need them,” she said. “They feel more invasive than protective.”
Junior Randy Tow said, “I understand why they have surveillance cameras, but I think they should try to trust the students more instead of putting cameras everywhere,” he said.