Lawmaker files camera bill to protect disabled students - FOX 26 News | MyFoxHouston

Lawmaker files camera bill to protect disabled students

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HOUSTON (FOX 26) -

At the Texas state capitol, there's new legislation aimed at protecting disabled students who can't protect themselves.

Over the last 18 months in the Houston area alone, FOX 26 News has reported eight confirmed cases of serious mistreatment and physical abuse of children with special needs.

Each occurred in self-contained, public school classrooms and were committed by the very educators responsible for the care and protection of their victims.

None of the classrooms were under surveillance, prompting parents to issue an urgent plea for cameras.

Today in Austin, State Senate Education Chairman Dan Patrick of Katy answered that call with the filing of Senate Bill 1380

"The bill is to put cameras in classrooms that are self-contained and to give parents piece of mind that when their children go to school they are not going to be mistreated," said Patrick.

"Students with disabilities literally can't speak up for themselves," he added.

Presley Villareal was among four students allegedly humiliated and physically mistreated by a classroom aid at Cy-Fair's Smith Middle School.

Her father Scott is grateful Patrick's made the call for cameras.

"A camera can change what is getting ready to happen and we definitely need that in there for children who can't speak for themselves," said Villareal.

David Penny's daughter Hailey suffered abuse inside her New Caney special ed classroom.

He says cameras are long over do and would protect not just students, but educators as well.

"You don't need them in every classroom. You need them in the classrooms where these children are most vulnerable, these classrooms where these children who can't speak and defend themselves, that's where you need them," said Penny.

Patrick says he will schedule a hearing on SB 1380 in a matter of weeks.

"I'm going to have FOX 26 show your video at our committee hearing because I think its going to open some eyes," said Patrick.

Houston's teacher's union has voiced opposition to cameras in special education classrooms as intrusive and unnecessary.

Some school districts are expected to object to the cost.

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