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Boulder ACLU Opposes More School Cameras

January 24, 2001

The Boulder County Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado (ACLU) told the Boulder Valley School District that spending up to $1.5 million for new security cameras in schools is unnecessary, ineffective and a violation of student privacy rights.

"Students are safer at schools than they are in their own communities. There is no justification for adopting prison-style security in schools at the expense of student privacy," said Boulder ACLU vice chair Judd Golden.

The Boulder ACLU presented a "White Paper" to the BVSD at their January 23 meeting titled, "Safety in Schools: Are We on the Right Track?" This document provides:

  •  an overview of the nature and scope of school violence today, which in no way justifies the move toward prison-style security and architecture;
  • a legal analysis of the unwarranted fear of liability for school violence that has in part driven the unprecedented increase in school security measures, and the risks of "zero tolerance" policies;
  • an analysis of many of the most common school violence prevention measures, focusing on surveillance cameras and unanswered legal questions regarding their use; and
  • a summary of more beneficial approaches that respect student privacy and views young people not as potential problems, but as resources in the creation of safe schools.

The Boulder County ACLU urges the BVSD to: declare a moratorium on all new video surveillance in schools; conduct an in-depth review and analysis of the true costs and benefits of existing and future cameras; and enact regulations to control the use of cameras and that punish those that abuse them or unreasonably violate privacy rights.

The ACLU has successfully opposed expansion of government video surveillance nationwide as a violation of basic rights of privacy. The ACLU has nearly 1000 Boulder County members, many of whom have children in Boulder County schools.

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