House Bill 1196 originally sought to drop our mandatory school attendance age back to 16. House Education hoghoused HB 1196 last Wednesday to clamp down on recording devices in K-12 classrooms:
No person, including a student, may use any electronic listening or recording device in any classroom of a school district without the prior consent of the teacher in the classroom and the principal of the school.
Any person, other than a student, who violates this section is guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor. Any student who violates this section is subject to appropriate disciplinary action as provided in school district policy [2017 HB 1196, as amended in House Education, 2017.02.15].
The School Administrators of South Dakota brought this hoghouse to protect teachers and students from unauthorized recordings in the classroom. Speaking for the administrators, Rob Monson said HB 1196 is not intended to stop folks from taking photos and videos at public events like basketball games and school plays (although you’d better check with the director and the playwright before recording any part of the school play). It’s meant to keep kids from catching teachers at awkward moments and manipulating images to embarrass teachers via social media.
Now teachers and administrators can already prohibit kids from using phones and other gadgets in the classroom, under school policy. The proponents contended that school policy can’t restrict adults from making such recordings and that state law is required to provide full protection from unauthorized recording.
Rep. Burt Tulson asked if hearing aids could fall under the text. Obviously that’s not the intent of the bill, but that’s not made clear in the text of the bill. Nor, as Rep. Bob Glanzer noted, does the bill make clear that it doesn’t extend to the use of iPads, laptop computers, or other computing devices that students and teachers regularly use in the classroom.
Last weekend, I judged speech and debate rounds in ten different classrooms in Watertown High School. School was out, the classroom teachers were elsewhere, but I was in public school district classrooms. In those rounds, I used my tablet and laptop to take notes on student presentations. I didn’t record audio or video, but I did record the proceedings in electronic handwriting and typewriting. Many of my fellow judges use their phones to keep time in debate rounds. Strictly read, HB 1196 would have required each of us judges to get permission from every Watertown High School teacher and the principal to carry on our normal debate-judging activities in their classrooms.
House Education passed HB 1196 on an 8–6 vote, with the nays appearing more concerned that the Class 2 misdemeanor penalty was too harsh. HB 1196 is on Tuesday’s House calendar, along with 45 other bills. If this bill is necessary, I suggest a quick amendment—strike “may use any electronic listening or recording device” and replace with “may take photos or make audio or video recordings while class is in session.”