Phillips says Texas school districts have no credible excuse for prohibiting cameras.
"It's like throwing kerosene on a fire and expecting it not to burn. If you put poorly trained teachers and aides in these classrooms with children who have these challenges and nobody to watch out for them," said Phillips.
My daughter's abuser was caught, arrested and convicted because of cameras on her school bus. I'm all for cameras in schools. KS
HOUSTON (FOX 26) -
In a world where every child needs protection, Hailey Penny will always need more than most.
She trusts everyone, without condition, especially her parents and her teachers.
But by fall 2010, the once perpetually cheerful 10-year-old had spent months fearful and deeply withdrawn.
"We were at our wits end. We were literally racking our brains, in tears wondering, what's going on with our child, you know?" recalled David Penny, Hailey's father.
On an afternoon the Pennys will never forget, the "cause" came home on the body of their disabled child in the form of scrapes and heavy bruising. They were injuries, an investigation quickly confirmed, that were inflicted by a teacher's aide in Hailey's New Caney ISD Special Needs classroom.
"It hurt me," Hailey said before hiding her face in her hands.
"If I was to put bruises and marks on my child like that or any child for that matter, they would put me in jail. I would be in jail for child abuse! How are they any different?" asked David.
But in this case, the teacher's aide who hurt Hailey walked away. Montgomery County prosecutors claim they lacked evidence to convince a grand jury, the kind of proof that could have come from a surveillance camera if the classroom had just had one.
"They need to be in the classrooms where the children can't defend themselves, in classrooms where a child is not able to come home and say 'Mommy, Daddy, so and so is hurting me'," said David Penny.
FOX 26 has learned the same aide was reprimanded for mistreating Hailey and other disabled students just five months before, and yet New Caney ISD failed to tell the Pennys of the alleged abuse or to install surveillance to insure it didn't happen again.
Hailey's mistreatment is hardly isolated. Over the past year, FOX 26 has uncovered a half dozen cases in the Houston area alone in which disabled kids, isolated in self-contained public school classrooms have been persecuted or preyed upon by the very people who are supposed to protect them.
In Fort Bend ISD, a nine-year-old autistic student was repeatedly imprisoned in a closed filing cabinet by her special-ed teacher.
The same, now former educator at Juan Seguin Elementary stands accused of kicking, striking and verbally abusing other disabled kids.
The classroom had no camera.
Read more: http://www.myfoxhouston.com/story/19325960/2012/08/20/can-cameras-protect-special-needs-kids-from-abuse#ixzz24DyMBRuF