A Walpole High School social studies teacher has been vocal in opposing a plan to install security cameras in Walpole’s schools. He also expressed discomfort with working in an environment that is under surveillance.

“I’ve been about as outspoken as I feel comfortable being,” Christopher Jean, a teacher at WHS for 15 years, said, referring to conversations with WHS principal Stephen Imbusch and Superintendent Lincoln Lynch about the cameras. “I’m pretty dead set against them.”

Jean said he teaches the importance of privacy and due process of law in his classes.

“It’s hard to promote those values while walking through a school with cameras,” he said. “It makes a mockery of me as a teacher.”

According to School Committee chairman Nancy Gallivan, in 2011 84 percent of high schools had surveillance cameras, up from 60 percent in 2010.

“I think it’s become the normal course in school security,” She said, “I know cameras in high schools are common.”

The proposal calls for a dozen cameras to be installed in major hallways and the cafeteria at WHS at a cost of $37,000 and according to Gallivan. The proposal also calls for cameras to be installed at the other schools in Walpole, at a price tag of $73,000.

Jean expressed concern that initial approval of the surveillance camera proposal could ultimately become a slippery slope, and that it’s simply a knee-jerk reaction to December’s elementary school massacre in Newtown, Conn. He said that if another school shooting were to occur somewhere, it could serve as justification to install more cameras.

Gallivan, however, hasn’t heard any indications that such a plan is in the works, but would not rule out the possibility of additional cameras in the future.

“I don’t think that’s likely to happen,” she said.

“It’s a lot of money going out the door that’s not productive,” Jean said, adding that some of the school’s world history textbooks are as many as 20 years old. “If you want to throw $40,000 at the high school, that’d be a good place to start,” he said.

“Episodes like Newtown make some people fearful,” Gallivan said. “I believe [the cost] is justified.”

Jean said that installing cameras in the hallways would alter the positive environment that currently exists at WHS without making the school safer.

Read more: Outraged Walpole High teacher calls security cameras an invasion of privacy – Walpole, MA – Wicked Local Walpole http://www.wickedlocal.com/walpole/news/x633479493/Outraged-Walpole-High-teacher-calls-security-cameras-an-invasion-of-privacy#ixzz2SMYsBrB9
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