Seneca Valley schools could permit audio surveillance on buses

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Seneca Valley School District officials will soon be able to listen to pupils on their buses as well as watch them.

School board members passed the first reading tonight of a policy that will permit audio recording on school buses. The district already has video surveillance equipment on all of its buses.

District spokeswoman Linda Andreassi said they must vote on the policy three times before it can go into effect. She said they expect to start using the audio equipment on buses next school year.

Jim Pearson, district transportation director, said the bus surveillance cameras are audio capable but the audio was shut off because state law did not permit audio recordings.

Mr. Pearson said state law changed last month when the governor signed Senate Bill 57 allowing audio recordings on school vehicles for disciplinary or security purposes.

The new law requires school districts to adopt a policy authorizing the use of audio equipment, to post warnings on buses that audio is being recorded and send parents written notices each year about the audio taping, Mr. Pearson said.

He said there should be no additional costs to the district for the audio on the buses, but the district has two vans without any video or audio monitoring equipment. Adding the equipment to those vehicles would cost about a $1,000 for each vehicle, he said.

Laure Cioffi, freelance writer:

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