Enhanced Classroom Video Recording Bill set to pass

CHARLESTON, W. Va. – A bill that enhances the current state law that allows videotaping of special education classrooms in Mountain State is poised to receive final passage by end of the regular 60-day session on Saturday evening.

Members of the state Senate and House of Delegates agreed to the provisions of SB 261.

The bill allows county school officials to view the video in the classroom whenever they choose. It allows the school system to broadcast class videos to attorneys representing students and their families. The video may also be released to investigators. The bill also requires 15 minutes of video surveillance every 90 days by a school official.

Craig Bowden

Kanawha County couple Craig and Beth Bowden led efforts to change the current classroom registration law. Bowden’s son, Trenton, 9, was abused at Holz Elementary in Charleston last September. They told lawmakers how video from one day showed their son and two other children slapped in the face, their heads banged on desks, some students thrown to the ground and one student was forced to eat lunch on the floor of the bathroom.

Craig Bowden told MetroNews on Thursday that he was “really happy” with the final shape of the bill.

During Thursday’s debate on the bill in the House, MK Kathie Hess Crouse, R-Putnam, said she experienced a similar situation more than a dozen years ago.

Kathie Hess Crouse

“I can tell you that the things that were said to my child and the children in that kindergarten class 13 years ago were something that, if I had allowed it to continue, would have ruined the educational careers of those children, the would have damaged emotionally and it did for some of them for months to come, we need to put an end to this,” Crouse said.

The House made minor changes to the original Senate bill and passed it Thursday on a 100-0 vote.

Some delegates wanted the bill to include the requirement for audio recordings in school bathrooms. Of the. Margitta Mazzocchi, R-Logan, had hoped for a stronger bill.

Margitta Mazzocchi

“It’s a success for the parents because they’ve done a lot of work, but it’s not a success for us because we’re not moving forward and looking to the future,” Mazzocchi said.

Nancy Boggs, 66, was Trenton Bowden’s teacher. She was indicted by a Kanawha County grand jury on 23 counts of assault and battery and one count of verbally assaulting an uncommunicative child.

Boggs resigned from her teaching job on November 1, 2021. She is due to stand trial in April.

The Bowdens are also watching HB 4600 in the closing days of the session. The bill makes the physical abuse of a disabled child by someone in a position of trust a criminal offence. The bill passed by the House was still in the possession of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday evening.

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