LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — The Nevada Legislature is deciding whether cameras should be put inside classrooms with special needs students. But what about the cameras that already exist inside schools?
The I-Team discovered access to footage is a challenge for parents and guardians.
Wendi Nutick says her grandson Matthew was bullied at school.
“They couldn’t tell exactly where he was bleeding from,” said Nutick. “It was his nose and mouth.”
She took him to the hospital after he was slapped.
“It took us three weeks to get him back to school on a regular basis following the incident,” she said.
The 12-year-old is autistic and according to documents provided to the I-Team by Nutick, the other child who also has special needs was investigated by the Clark County School District Police for battery. According to a document, the incident happened in the 8th grade hallway.
A district spokesman says there are cameras in certain areas of the school but this incident wasn’t caught on video. Nutick claims she was told she couldn’t view any footage to see for herself.
“That it would require a subpoena. That FERPA, I believe is kind of like HIPPA and it protects the other students in the video,” she said.
The I-Team filed a formal request and this was the response: “Video from that February time frame doesn’t exist anymore.”
Gabriel Bustamantez, a parent, faced a similar struggle.
“The principal of the school contacted my wife and said she was investigating this other issue and noticed in the background something peculiar happening with Andrew and another teacher,” Bustamantez, said.
His son Andy is also autistic. Bustamantez hired attorney Marianne Lanuti and eventually obtained a video where a staffer appears to toss something to get Andy to follow.
“Like they were playing fetch with my son,” Bustamantez said.
But he tells the I-Team there’s another video which the district refused to show him.
“We were told we can’t see the video. It’s proprietary information because there’s other kids in the video and there’s staff members and privacy issues involved,” he said.
When the I-Team requested that video from last September, the district refused to release it citing privacy concerns.
Bustamantez continued his fight, and he did eventually see that second video but he says he is not permitted to speak about it. He also placed his son in a private school.
“It’s just red flag after red flag and then as we, like I said, as we asked for more information, radio silence, we were completely cut off, we were put up with barriers,” he said.
Matthew still attends Cram Middle School.
“Are they going to be able to protect him?” Nutick asks.
She says the other student was removed but is now back.
“It’s heart wrenching. You know you work so hard to get them in the right place in the right time so they can hopefully be successful in life,” she said. “To know that no matter how hard you try and how hard you fight, you just don’t have the avenues to do everything to protect them.”
CCSD issued the following response:
“School administration is aware of the matter and is taking this incident seriously.
We are unable to discuss individual student disciplinary matters due to privacy law. However, in general, each matter is investigated and students can face administrative disciplinary depending on the severity of the matter. Additionally, surveillance video was not a factor in the investigation of this incident.”
The I-Team has covered the debate on cameras inside special needs classrooms and issues facing students extensively.