Cameras in primary schools?
Kennedy says move being considered

Parents' group condemns idea

Oct. 6, 2004. 01:00 AM


The province is looking into installing surveillance cameras at the entrances of some Ontario elementary schools, Education Minister Gerard Kennedy told the Toronto Star last night.


Kennedy said the proposed project was part of the Liberal government's campaign platform and is aimed at protecting younger students.


"We are considering the option of installing cameras in some not all schools, especially where security officers are not in a position to monitor the entrances to the building," Kennedy said.


Details of the project have yet to be finalized, but he expects to make an announcement in coming weeks, Kennedy said in an interview before a meeting with constituents last night.


"We are still consulting with parents and no final decision has been made yet," he said.


Cathy Dandy of the Toronto Parent Network said installing cameras at elementary school entrances would not solve the security problems facing Toronto schools.


"I am not aware of any plans to install cameras but if it happens I will strongly condemn it," Dandy said. "It is ridiculous that living, breathing people necessary to look out after kids are being substituted by machines."


Dandy said intruders wouldn't be able to enter school premises without being spotted if the province hired enough personnel.


The increasing use of video surveillance cameras in schools prompted Ontario's privacy commissioner, Ann Cavoukian, to issue new guidelines last December governing the use of cameras and the information they collect.


The guidelines state that schools should use cameras only where there have been enough incidents to warrant the measure and where other deterrents, such as monitoring by staff, have been ineffective.


Other guidelines recommended by Cavoukian include posting signs that tell staff, students and visitors that an area is being monitored and restricting access to tapes and surveillance to a few authorized personnel.


With files from Tess Kalinowski