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School bus surveillance helps schools manage transportation security
Jun 15,2012   

Due to increased school violence and parental concerns regarding bus driver behavior, school bus surveillance has become more prevalent. School officials throughout the nation are held accountable by parents to ensure student safety on the buses, and by using video surveillance this security can be assured.

School bus management has never been easy, but with today''s terrorist threats and gang violence, installing video surveillance cameras on school buses is the next logical step. Many school districts use multi-channel DVR''s (digital video recorder) that can record multiple camera views both inside and outside the bus''s entrance and exit. These cameras also have audio, GPS location capabilities, and can give real-time information regarding the bus''s speed, braking, and safety signal activation.

The DVR can start recording automatically in the case of an incident because there are impact sensors, which date and time stamp the images. The buses also have panic buttons, so that when the driver hits that button, a market is placed on that recording, making the incident easy to find. The one to four visible cameras also can record audio, which is seen as a privacy intrusion by parents, students, attorneys and civil libertarian groups.

In fact, a class action suit was lodged against the Twin Valley, Pennsylvania school district for using a video surveillance system that recorded the student''s conversations on the school bus. Claiming the suit under Pennsylvania''s Wire Tapping and Electronic Surveillance Act and Title III of 1968, the claimants stated that the school district used the video surveillance footage to discipline the students, which violated their privacy rights. However, the claimants lost their case because the students did not have an expectation of privacy.

Since the cameras are not hidden, students should know that they are being recorded. Video surveillance as a preventative measure on school buses has been shown to enhance the management of problem behavior on the buses, and the immediate video feedback helps school administrators confront the individuals involved soon after incidents occur. The video surveillance systems also provide liability protection in case there is legal action against the driver.

Video surveillance systems are a long-term investment for school districts that must be periodically maintained and adjusted. If they are used properly, a surveillance system can promote student safety, prevent discipline problems, and deter vandalism.

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