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The Legislature Today is West Virginia’s only television/radio simulcast devoted to covering the state’s 60-day regular legislative session. Fridays at 6 PM on WVPB TV, Radio, and Digital

W.Va. Senators Unanimously Approve Bill To Bolster Law Requiring Cameras In Special Ed Classrooms

Eric Nelson - Senate 2021.jpg
Will Price
/
WV Legislative Photography
Sen. Eric Nelson, R-Kanawha, sits at his desk in the Senate chamber on March 11, 2021.

The West Virginia Senate has passed a bill that strengthens a 2019 law to require cameras in special education classrooms.

SB 261 extends the amount of time that recordings from the cameras must be kept – from three months to a year, and the bill requires that recordings be checked no less than every 90 days.

Additionally, the bill gives county and building administrators the authority to review video footage, and if families request to see recordings, it must be permitted.

The 2019 law was originally put in place following incidents of physical abuse and mistreatment of students with special needs in some West Virginia special education classrooms.

In a recent meeting of the Senate Education Committee, senators heard testimony from Kanawha County mother Beth Bowden whose son had experienced abuse in October.

“Without [the 2019] law, none of this abuse would have been caught,” Bowden said in committee. “However, what we now know is that these cameras are not stopping the abuse.”

Sen. Eric Nelson, R-Kanawha, is the bill’s lead sponsor. He said the bill improves the 2019 law and will better protect children.

“This was brought to my attention by a local [school] board member, because we've had, unfortunately, two issues that have made the press here in Kanawha County in two of our middle schools,” Nelson said Monday on the Senate floor. “It's very unfortunate, because the losers in this are those special children that, unfortunately, maybe cannot speak … This bill gives school educators another move to make sure that these terrible acts do not happen in the future.”

SB 261 passed unanimously in the Senate and now heads to the House of Delegates for consideration.


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