With a network of thousands of surveillance cameras, New Jersey’s biggest school district is on track to be one of the state’s most closely watched.
The Newark Board of Education said it’s an important step to make sure kids are safe in a time when school shootings and other emergencies happen more often. Parents who talked to PIX11 News agreed, but they also wanted to know that the cameras would do more than just watch hallways and classes.
The father of a kindergartener is Lanier Hayes. He was pushing her on a swing next to the closed Louis A. Spencer Elementary School in Jesse Allen Park. When asked if schools should have more cams, the dad’s answer was clear.
Hayes said, “I think that’s a good thing for the safety of our kids.”
In particular, he was talking about the Newark Board of Education’s recent move to put 7,000 security cameras in the city’s schools.
The Board of Education says that the district has 35,329 kids. The new cameras would be added to the ones that are already there. Even though that is the number of kids in any New Jersey district, it is only about 4% of the number of students in public schools in New York City.
With the 7,000 cameras, every five or six kids in the district would have their own camera. Parents told PIX11 News that this level of coverage wouldn’t make it hard for kids to keep their privacy.
“I don’t think so,” said Christina Lalin, whose children are in kindergarten and sixth grade. “It’s good for the kids’ safety.”
“Let’s say they get hurt or are bullied,” Lalin said. “They don’t have any proof that the child got hurt, even if it was with a teacher.”
Valerie Wilson, who works for the Newark Board of Education and is in charge of the buy, said the cameras were bought with money from the federal American Rescue Plan that was set aside for schools.
She said that the number of 7,000 was chosen to meet the needs of the school area.
“We have more than 3,000 schools. How many halls and doors are there?” In an interview, Wilson said this. “One of the high schools I work at has more than 27 doors. You must look at the whole thing.”