Locker Room Cameras Expose School to Suit

He said the problem the school is facing needs to be raised with teachers, parents and students, and that a solution should be reached only through collective discussions about the best way to deal with the issue.

Joe Lavarello, executive director of the National Association of School Resource Officers, an organization of 11,000 school-based law enforcement personnel, said his 18 years of experience working in schools taught him that all the technology in the world "is no replacement for a good rapport with the kids."

There are districts that have used surveillance cameras in bathrooms, though never directed in such a way that they would record images of children removing their clothes, Lavarello said, and he has never heard of another district that put cameras in locker rooms.

"That's a very sensitive area and you've got to be able to defend every action when it comes to any move that might infringe on children's privacy," he said.

A Human Answer

Kenneth Trump, the president of National School Safety and Security Services, a consulting firm, said that numerous districts his company has worked with across the country have talked about putting security cameras in bathrooms and locker rooms, but he counsels against it.

Instead, he said, he suggests positioning cameras outside in such a way that they will record who goes in and out, but without any chance of capturing images of children undressing. If the problem can't be dealt with that way, he said, a better approach is to have bathroom or locker room monitors.

"Should we have cameras in there? Absolutely not," he said.

Louis Palumbo, a security expert and director of the Elite Agency, a personal security firm, and others in the field spoke to agreed that if school officials are concerned about a problem in a locker room — whether it is theft, graffiti or fights — the best way to deal with it is to have a teacher or other school personnel in the locker room.

He compared locker rooms to clothing store dressing rooms, where he said there would never be surveillance cameras, despite stores' legitimate concerns about shoplifting.

"There are other ways to account for what's going on in these dressing rooms," he said.

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