Cameras now allowed in special-needs classrooms in Georgia

Video cameras will now be allowed in special-education classrooms for safety and training purposes, under a bill passed by Georgia lawmakers Thursday.

House Bill 614, also known as the Landon Dunson Act, now enables video-monitoring camera equipment to be installed in special-education classes. Participation from local schools would be voluntary and access to footage would be limited to school administration, parents who request permission, law enforcement and court officers via subpoena.

Georgia is the second state in the country to authorize video cameras in self-contained special-needs classrooms. The bill now goes to Gov. Deal for his signature.

“I am overjoyed to have witnessed the strong support of my colleagues in both the House and Senate on this important bi-partisan legislation,” said Rep. Valencia Stovall (D-Lake City), one of the sponsors of the bill. “Our educators and special needs children deserve to feel safe and protected in the classrooms as well as have access to the best educational settings. The Landon Dunson Act provides an objective eye to educators and our most vulnerable students, in an environment when objectivity is required the most.

The passage marks a milestone for La La Dunson and her family. The bill was named after her 10-year-old son Landon who has autism and cerebral palsy and is unable to speak. Dunson had worked since 2010 to get some sort of state measure in place so that parents with special-needs children would have an objective view of what goes on in classrooms. She took her concern to Stovall.

Dunson spent Thursday at the Gold Dome watching the legislation go through the final stages, a process that went into the wee hours of Friday morning.

“I want to personally let each and everyone one of them know how thankful I am and they believed in this bill,” the Clayton County mother of six said Friday. “I loved that they got it right. For the parents, it give us more hope. We feel like we’re being heard and that our children matter.”