HOUSTON COUNTY, Ala. (WDHN) — The cameras will be placed in bathrooms at each school to monitor students looking for problems such as fighting which is what they typically see and are trying to prevent.
Some parents like Brittany Adams have voiced concerns about children’s privacy.
“It bothers me that we are arresting people for child pornography and invasion of privacy I mean what is this?” She said.
But is it an invasion of privacy?
In Alabama, you can’t generally put a camera where people have a reasonable expectation of privacy such as in dressing rooms where people take off their clothes.
Houston County DA Russ Goodman said that the right to privacy stems more from years of case law and previous court rulings than from specific statutes.
“There is no statute that your cameras can be placed here or placed here or if you don’t you’re in violation of the law,” Goodman said.
While students also have rights, they do not have the same level of rights as adults in a public place.
For example, if you had a locker at the bus station police would need a warrant to search it but students don’t have that protection.
“Students are entitled to their privacy but because they are in a school their expectation is not as high as in a public place for you and me,” Goodman said.
Before signing off on the plan, the school system’s attorney talked with Houston County’s district attorney and other lawyers about the legality.
“I met with Superintendent White and have personally observed what they are planning on doing and placing the cameras in my opinion they are in the confines of the Alabama law,” Goodman said.
These proposed cameras will be placed above the door and will show just the common area — no urinals or stalls. In some cases, depending on the layout of the bathroom there will not be a camera inside but outside the bathroom above the door to see who’s going in and coming out.
The district is still deciding where to place the cameras so they don’t expose students or violate their privacy.
They expect to have a better idea during future PTO meetings with parents.