A new proposal from an Iowa House Republican would place cameras in every public school classroom with the exception of physical and special education rooms.
HF 2177 was introduced by Rep. Norlin Mommsen of DeWitt.
According to Mommsen’s bill, the cameras would be connected to the internet, and parents and guardians would have access to a live feed to watch what is happening in their child’s classroom during normal attendance hours.
The cameras, their installation, and other related expenses would be paid for with the existing funds provided to school districts by the state legislature, meaning no additional state dollars would go to this effort.
This legislation follows up on months of Republican efforts to impose tighter control over what is taught in Iowa classrooms after a series of far-right online articles whipped up paranoia, often based on false or distorted claims, over public school curriculum. Some state senators have called for jailing teachers over out-of-context passages in various books available in some school libraries.
In this bill, there would also be punishment for staff, teachers, or administrators who fail to comply with having cameras in the classroom. If a classroom camera is intentionally obstructed, disconnected or the online site where the feed is streamed is purposefully disrupted, that perpetrator would be found guilty of non-compliance.
A first-time offender would receive a written reprimand. A second offense is punishable by a fine equal to 1% of the employee’s weekly salary. A third or subsequent offense is punishable by a fine equal to 5% of the employee’s weekly salary.
School district superintendents would be fined 5% of their weekly salary every time one of their employees fails to comply with the classroom camera mandate.
The only states that allow cameras in selected classrooms are Georgia, Texas, and West Virginia. Florida has a bill similar to Iowa’s coursing through its statehouse, although that bill allows districts to opt-out of classroom cameras whereas Iowa’s does not.
by Ty Rushing