LAS VEGAS - Getting cameras inside the classrooms of special needs students is a crusade for Marianne Lanuti.
“I believe the light will shine eventually,” she told the I-Team.
The attorney often represents parents of special needs students who believe their children were harmed and/or assaulted inside valley classrooms. But there is a challenge she frequently faces: Some of the children are non-verbal and can’t explain what may have happened.
Lanuti’s suggestion: Cameras inside special needs classrooms.
“The teachers and the aides and the witnesses are discouraged from reporting, and there's a culture of not reporting and sweeping things under the carpet,” Lanuti said.
Cesar Jimenez’s son Isaac has autism. Jimenez believes his son was assaulted by a school staffer.
“If we rewind the tape, we knowing really what's going on. So I think it's a great benefit if we had cameras inside the classroom,” Hernandez told the I-Team.
Ebony Williams agrees. She said her son, Isaiah, is also in a special needs classroom. He is verbal and told her a teacher held him by the ankles.
An investigation was done and no criminal intent was found, according to the Clark County School District Police. Williams said she still believes her son.
“It would have been so much easier if there was a camera in the classroom that can show us exactly what happened, this investigation would have been so much easier for everybody in all parties,” said Williams.
In 2017, a bill was introduced in the Nevada legislature to install cameras in special needs classrooms at the Clark County School District. The Clark County School District did present an amendment calling for a pilot project, but the bill failed to pass.
The I-Team contacted the union representing Clark County School District teachers and received the following statement:
“In the 2017 Legislative Session, there was a bill regarding a camera in special education classrooms sponsored by former Senator Becky Harris. The bill was never passed. This is a complicated issue that involves the issue of student privacy, due process, fiscal issues — and that’s just scratching the surface," said John Vellardita, the executive director. "For us, the starting point on this issue has to start and end with what is in the best interest of the student and the educator. Thus, if this issue returns as part of the 2019 Legislative Session, we will continue to be involved in the development, as we were in 2017.”
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