Implement special ed camera law say Texas senators, "No excuses"

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If members of the Texas Senate needed their memories refreshed as to why they ordered cameras placed in special needs classrooms, Columbia Wilson and her grandson Christian were more than willing to oblige.

At a special meeting of the Senate's Education Committee in McAllen the two described in painful detail how the intellectually challenged child was beaten and emotionally tortured by his San Antonio teacher  "We need cameras. What if it was your child, your kid? And some of our children, they've been raped," said Wilson.

While the special needs camera law takes effect September 1st, some school districts are hesitating to implement, in part because the Texas Education Agency is still formulating guidelines.

And then there's the cost, which many ISD's consider an unfunded mandate from Austin.

"Some of the larger districts in the top ten in Texas are estimating $3 million, $4 million, $5 million for installation. We also request that the legislature do a supplemental appropriation to cover at least this initial cost," said Janna Lilly of the Texas Counsel of Administrators of Special Education.

But Lawmakers were in no mood for delays or negotiations. Senator Sylvia Garcia of Houston called rule concerns "excuses". Senator Royce West of Dallas said school districts were making a "mountain out of a mole hill". Senator Eddie Lucio of Brownsville said it was time for the TEA to remove hurdles and Senator Paul Bettencourt of Houston warned against blocking the new protection with bureaucracy.

Education Chairman Larry Taylor of Friendswood summarized with emphatic clarity.

"We are trying to protect the most at risk students, the ones who are unable to communicate and they are being victimized, not everywhere, but if that's your child or a child in your town, that's your child. We want this implemented in an expeditious manner," said Taylor.