Tennessee lawmakers will review a bill this week that, if enacted into law, will allow parents to view school bus videos if they hear of physical harm, harassment, intimidation or bullying involving their child.
The bill’s sponsor is State Sen. Shane Reeves, R-Murfreesboro, according to the state of Tennessee’s website.
“The policies must require that photos or video footage be viewed under supervision of the director of schools, the school principal, or a school official,” according to Reeves’ bill. Reeves sponsored the bill because he said a Lewisburg mother faced roadblocks finding out what happened to her kindergartener on the bus, according to the Tennessee Coalition for Open Government’s website.
“Brooke Wilkerson said she was concerned when her young daughter told her about a ‘secret tickling game’ on the bus that she wasn’t supposed to talk about. Later, her daughter said she had to wipe off her mouth after a friend kissed her. Wilkerson said she later found out the other student was 12,” according to the TCOG.
“Wilkerson went to school officials and the Marshall County Sheriff’s office to try to find out more, but could not get anyone in authority to do a complete review of all the bus video to find out what had been happening. Officials also told her that she would not be allowed to view the video herself because a federal law, the Family Educational and Privacy Rights (FERPA), prevented the school from releasing it.”
FERPA, the TCOG went on to say, was created so parents could access their student’s educational records. The law prohibits the school from releasing a student’s records to other people. But, “it’s often misunderstood and misused to withhold records even from parents,” the TCOG said.
Rep. Rick Tillis, R-Lewisburg, carries the bill on the House side as HB 248.
“Wilkerson has since taken her daughter out of the Marshall County public school and is homeschooling. She said she plans to put a petition on her website to help support the law change to allow parents to freely see school bus video when they hear of a problem related to their child,” according to the TCOG.
“She plans to testify at the Senate Education Committee next Wednesday. The meeting starts at 2:30 p.m. in Senate Hearing Room I.”