Parents of an autistic Maine teen want him to have a recording device during the school day. Alanna Durkin Richer reports at AP:
A novel case heading Monday to the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston, which hears most New England cases, pits the student's parents against his southern Maine school district, which says the recording device would infringe on other students' privacy rights. His parents say they need a glimpse into his day so they can better advocate for him at a school they don't trust isn't always telling the whole story.
"Most kids can come home and tell their parents what happened at school or what the teacher had done or not done. He can't do that," said Matthew Pollack, the father of the now 18-year-old Ben.
Attorneys for the district say teachers and administrators have gone above and beyond to provide the parents with information about the student, who they say loves school. A hearing officer concluded last year there is "simply no demonstrable benefit" to allowing the parents to record his day and that it would actually be "disruptive and detrimental" to his education.
In other states, parents of special education students have secretly placed audio recorders on their children to expose abuse, which have led to firings or settlements. And Texas recently began requiring school districts to install cameras in certain special education classrooms.
But opponents say such actions raise serious privacy concerns.
If parents can assert a right to "send an always-on listening device to school with their children, what would this mean for students who wished to report abuse or neglect at home to a school counselor, or for students with disabilities who are LGBT?" asked Samantha Crane of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network.