HOUSTON (FOX 26) - When your child can't talk, can't make an outcry that he or she is being abused, a parent's demand for protective surveillance becomes a certainty, especially when a kid like Junior comes home from school with injuries, but no answers.
"Cuts and bruises on his back, bumps on his head, bumps on his face and no explanation as to why it happened," said Maria Cigala, Junior's mother.
It's why Maria Cigala joined parents in the thick of the fight for cameras in special education classrooms- a Texas law that takes effect the moment kids like Junior walk onto campus for the Fall semester.
"When I send my son to school I always have my heart in my throat. I always have my phone by me because I never know what's going to happen okay? It will give me a little bit of peace of mind that if something happens, I can review those tapes," said Cigala, whose children attend school in Conroe ISD.
While electronic surveillance is a student's right, installation is not a guarantee. Parents must formally request placement of the camera in their kid's classroom. A signed letter to a principal will work. Some parents fear resentment and retaliation from cash strapped ISD's, but Cigala says the welfare of her child trumps school district discomfort.
"Our kids fight so hard every day with all their struggles. It's the least we can do is to fight for them," said Cigala.
Once the cameras are installed, schools are required to store six months-worth of surveillance data. Images that can prove a ready source of explanation for questions that have too often gone unanswered.
Maria knows she can't follow Junior into the classroom, but a camera can.
"I'm very proud and it’s a step in the right direction, but we have to get the rest of the U.S. to do it, the whole country to do it ," said Cigala.
Bottom-line - if a Texas child spends at least half of his or her day in a self-contained special education classroom a school district cannot legally deny a parent's request for camera surveillance.