Interior Video Monitoring Information

WT Woodson High School administration and security are proposing an increase in security measures by adding internal video monitoring to our school.  What is internal video monitoring?   Internal Video Monitoring is simply cameras.   Administrators and security staff at WT Woodson HS would like to increase our ability to maintain the safety of our students.  One way to do this is by installing cameras throughout the building in high traffic areas.  These areas are hallways and not in classrooms or restrooms.  There are three main reasons for this proposal:

  • Ensuring the overall safety and security of our students, staff and facility.  Last year we had over 5300 user groups on our campus outside the school day throughout our 379,256 square foot building.  These users access the building through unlocked doors after 3 PM and on weekends and often interact with students who are using the building for various activities.
  • Due to the heavy use of our building, having cameras will assist us in maintaining a safe and secure environment to help deter crime.   Cameras will allow staff to recall necessary information in special circumstances so we are sure to get all facts right the first time.  Cameras will provide identification of persons in the event of an incident, such as a pulled fire alarm when not an emergency.
  • WT Woodson HS is fortunate to have several unique populations of students with differing developmental needs who require supervision.

Interior cameras are not meant to be an invasion of privacy but an additional layer of security in this complex world in which we live.  Cameras would not be personally monitored but footage would be available for review up to 30 days in case of an incident.  The only persons who would see the video are FCPS staff who need to review and use images in the course of their official duties.  This is typically security and administration.   Parents may view images only of their own student and may not have copies of footage.  Parents will be notified if video has to be reviewed regarding their son/daughter.

This proposal would be funded through non-instructional funds.   The effectiveness of video monitoring has been shown as vandalism is down throughout FCPS sites with cameras.  Seventy-seven percent of all public high schools use security cameras to monitor schools (Indicators of School Crime and Safety, U.S. Departments of Justice and Education, November, 2010).  Locally, the school divisions that utilize interior video surveillance include the Maryland divisions of Frederick County, Montgomery County and Prince George’s County. In Virginia, Alexandria, Loudoun, Prince William, Fauquier, Stafford, Culpepper and Alexandria school divisions utilize interior cameras. Washington D.C. also uses them.   Within FCPS, all high schools except WT Woodson have cameras. 

Feedback is gathered from students, staff and community members through the following plan of meetings (snow dates are in parenthesis):

  • Parents and community interest:  Will be held in conjunction with our February PTSO meeting: Tuesday, February 13th (Tuesday, February 20th) at 7pm in the Woodson Library.

If you are unable to attend this meeting and would like to submit feedback, please use this Google Form (https://goo.gl/forms/nLdr3ScN4aQuiOj03).  You may also email Celeste Jones at cbjones@fcps.edu with your comments on this proposal and whether you support or oppose the installation.

  • Faculty Advisory Committee: Tuesday, February 13th (Tuesday, February 20th) at 3:10pm, department chairs during 7th period.
  • Full faculty question and answer session: Wednesday, February 14th (Wednesday, February 21st) at 3:10pm and Friday, February 16th (Friday, February 23rd) at 7:30am.
  • Student leadership: Monday, February 12th (Tuesday, February 20th) and Tuesday, February 13th (Wednesday, February 21st) during periods 5 and 6.
  • Student question and answer session during lunches on Monday, February 12th (Tuesday, February 20th), Tuesday, February 13th, (Wednesday, February 21st).
  • Snow dates ( ) will be one week after the regularly scheduled meeting.

The funding of $36,000 (on November 30, 2017) will come from 50% of materials and supplies, 30% from the class accounts, and 20% from community use.

Frequently Asked Questions

 Will the video cameras be monitored continuously?  No, they will not be routinely monitored, but rather, will be reviewed after an incident occurs.  Security personnel in the office of safety and security may access video cameras and images when necessary for their official duties.  An example is a school alarm after hours.

How long will the images be retained?  By regulation, they must be stored for at least 14 days and not more than 30 days.

Who can view the images?  FCPS staff who need to review and use the images in the course of their official duties may do so.  This is typically limited to administrators, security personnel and personnel engaged in disciplinary reviews.  The School Resource Officers and the School Liaison Commander are allowed to view the images because they are considered school officials, however no other police personnel are permitted.  Parents may view images of their own students.  When a video involves more than one student, the parents of any student who is a primary subject of the video may review the recording but may not have a copy.  Parents of students who are in the background do not have a right to view the recording.  Employees may view images in which they are the subject.

Who will these videos be released to?  Disclosure of student images to individuals or organizations outside FCPS may be made only with parent consent (or student consent if the student is 18 years of age or older), in response to subpoena, search warrant or court order, in connection with a health or safety emergency, in response to legal action against the system, or consistent with one of the other exceptions to the disclosure ban in the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act regulations.

Are there future costs?  The surveillance systems come with a 3-year parts and labor warranty and thereafter are covered under a preventive maintenance and repair contract currently funded centrally.  As the number of cameras increase in FCPS, these contract costs are expected to rise.  Additionally, once a school receives their initial permission to implement interior video cameras, the principal may consider adding additional ones in the future, if circumstances warrant an expansion.

What is the funding source?  Principals should provide information on the identified funding that may include non-instructional school-based funds, any available proffer funds and, if applicable, any intention to seek bond funding for infrastructure components that have an appropriate life expectancy.  Once permission is granted to proceed, bond funding requests may be made to the FCPS Office of Safety and Security.

If you obtain interior video surveillance, what reporting does the school have to do?  Schools that are granted permission to utilize ongoing interior video monitoring are required to submit data regarding the number of incidents in specific areas of the schools in which cameras have been installed and the number of successful investigations of incidents using video recordings.  Successful means that the video was helpful in determining what happened in an incident.  Additionally, the superintendent is required to annually report to the School Board incident and survey data collected regarding the effectiveness of ongoing interior video monitoring.

Are the cameras effective?  The experience of FCPS with exterior video surveillance strongly suggests that their use resulted in significant reductions in vandalism at schools that used the systems.  FCPS also performed a pilot test of surveillance in the lunch lines to determine if the existence of video cameras were helpful in reducing theft.  This pilot test did not show that they were successful in reducing theft, although the principals of the test sites did note that they saw a reduction in inappropriate behavior in the lunch lines.

Do other school systems use interior video surveillance?  Seventy-seven percent of all public high schools use security cameras to monitor schools (Indicators of School Crime and Safety, U.S. Departments of Justice and Education, November, 2010).  Locally, the school divisions that utilize interior video surveillance include the Maryland divisions of Frederick County, Montgomery County and Prince George’s County. In Virginia, Alexandria, Loudoun, Prince William, Fauquier, Stafford, Culpepper and Alexandria school divisions utilize interior cameras.  Washington D.C. also uses interior video surveillance.