KANSAS CITY, Kan. — The Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools Board of Education voted Tuesday night to proceed with more input from the community before voting on a nearly $7 million program to install cameras in classrooms.
Teachers criticized the idea before the board at the public meeting.
“I’m going to quote from an activist in California who said, ‘Surveillance systems treat everyone like a constant suspect,” teacher Barbara Williams said.
“Please vote against cameras in the classroom,” another teacher added. “Teachers under audio and video scrutiny is not the answer.”
The school district said the KCAV-classroom cameras would help with student absences for virtual learning and provide students access to highly qualified teachers during a nationwide educator shortage.
They say COVID-19 taught them the unpredictability of student absences and this would help with more equitable access to teachers, especially for more at-risk students.
The district also said teachers can review their own lessons and share with their peers.
Sheyvette Dinkens, president of the Wyandotte High School Parent Teacher Student Association, spoke at the meeting.
“The most important thing is transparency,” Dinkens said. “A lot of parents are like, ‘What is going on? We don’t know about this.’ A lot of students are like, ‘What’s going on, is this real, is this a real thing?”
Board members sparred over implementation and a survey to get district opinions.
“Not everyone fills the survey out,” board member Wanda Brownlee-Paige said. “And then maybe they would prefer to come in here and speak. I think we need to give them that opportunity.”
Superintendent Dr. Anna Stubblefield also weighed in.
“Most of us were not even a part of the district [when this was decided], but it fell in our lap, and we have to navigate it,” Stubblefield said. “So, I just want us to get over blaming each other.”
In the end, the board voted to have public meetings where the community can give more input before a final vote. This could be taken up again as soon as Nov. 3.
The district said if the program fails, the $7 million would be reallocated.
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