School subcommittee to discuss surveillance cameras in Springfield public schools

These concerns will be addressed at a subcommittee meeting Wednesday night.
Published: Apr. 13, 2022 at 7:27 PM EDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB/WSHM) - Calls continue for the Springfield School Committee to revisit a policy giving the Springfield Police Department access to live and pre-recorded surveillance video inside Springfield public schools.

These concerns will be addressed at a subcommittee meeting Wednesday night.

The school committee made that vote in April of last year without any public participation, and people in the school community told us that they were upset they were not given a seat at the table.

The Pioneer Valley Project was upset that a majority of parents and students were unaware about this new policy, and they had concerns over privacy, criminalization of students, and police transparency.

Western mass News spoke with school committee member at-large Denise Hurst ahead of Wednesday night’s meeting. She told us it is important for parents to be involved and understand what is happening in the district.

“There was very little time for there to be any public input,” Hurst told us. “There was no transparency in the process. It went through the sub-committee on April 7th and then immediately landed on the full agenda on April 8th, and if you go back and look, there was quite a bit of discussion that night at the school committee meeting as to what’s the impetus of this. Why are we now reviewing this now, and why so quickly? Why so fast? You know, is this something that we could take a look at and do more due diligence, especially in the wake of us being in the mist of pandemic which limited people’s opportunity to be present and to hear about what was going on, but also in the midst of a racial reckoning following the murder of George Floyd and such strained police relations. Why would we pass something without necessarily taking into consideration how people were feeling, how it is that we move toward strengthening community policing with our residents.”

She said their goal Wednesday night will be to provide clarity on the memorandum of agreement, and she hopes they will be able to figure out a way to have a large public forum to hear concerns and get input on what information should go out to families and staff.

The meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. in the boardroom of the school department and will be open to the public. The Pioneer Valley Project told us that they do plan to have a few members at the meeting to listen in.