The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

Local News

April 24, 2014

Bus cameras will be listening, too

HERMITAGE — Hermitage School District is taking advantage of a recently enacted exemption to the state’s wiretap law in allowing officials to turn on the audio recording capability on school bus and vehicle video cameras.

Generally, state law does not allow audio recordings unless all of the parties know of the recording and consent to it. That’s why video security cameras, which have become prevalent in stores and on public streets, record only images.

However, the General Assembly in February allowed an exemption for school buses.

The school board adopted a policy Wednesday that requires that buses be posted with notices for drivers and passengers of “the potential for video and audio recording,” and that the student handbook contain the policy.

The policy is not in effect when a school bus or vehicle “is not being used for a school-related purpose.”

The cameras are used to investigate complaints about specific incidents, said Superintendent Dr. Daniel Bell.

Also Monday, the board adopted policies:

• Outlawing nepotism in hirings, meaning no one can be hired who is related to the superintendent, an administrator or a school board member. A relative is defined as a parent, child, spouse, sibling, grandchild, niece, nephew, uncle, brother-, daughter-, son- or sister-in-law, grandparent, stepson, stepdaughter or first cousin. Anyone “sharing the same residence and is generally regarded as a family member” also would be considered a relative. The only exception would be for supplemental contracts – those hired to coach sports or other extracurricular activities.

• Allowing officials to file suit against parents of students whose meal account balances exceed $100.

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