School security videos aren’t public record, Pasco district officials say

The district will take up a policy on surveillance recordings, at the same time it aims to restrict visitors’ videos.
Pasco County schools have increased their level of security since 2018. [Jeffrey S. Solochek | Times]
Pasco County schools have increased their level of security since 2018. [Jeffrey S. Solochek | Times] [ JEFFREY S. SOLOCHEK | Times ]
Published Sep. 26, 2019|Updated Sep. 26, 2019

The Pasco County school district is adding $840,000 in new surveillance cameras to campuses over two years, as part of an effort to enhance student and employee safety.

As it does so, officials want parents and others to know the resulting videos aren’t for them to see.

The recordings fall under several Sunshine Law exemptions, said assistant superintendent Kevin Shibley, including one protecting security system designs. They also are considered student records, and would not be released on that basis, Shibley added.

To make the point clear, the administration is asking the School Board to approve a new policy explaining exactly what the surveillance and monitoring system is for, and not for.

“Any information obtained from video surveillance/electronic monitoring systems may only be used to support the orderly operation of the School District’s schools and facilities, and for law enforcement purposes, and not for any other purposes,” the proposed rule says in part.

The policy comes to the board Tuesday in a workshop, on the same day the board is to consider adopting a separate measure restricting parents, volunteers and other school visitors from making videos inside schools without getting advance permission. That would put visitors on the same level as students and employees, who already face such a requirement.

Officials called for such a revision after a family made videos of back-to-school day at two campuses and posted them on a YouTube channel with more than 1 million subscribers. Some students and parents raised objections, saying they did not agree to appear in the videos and, further, they had concerns that the school’s safety features and layout might be compromised.

Related: <b>RELATED:</b> YouTubers with 1.1 million followers create security, privacy concerns for Pasco schools

The board held a public hearing on the policy at its Sept. 17 meeting. No one spoke.