Proposal For Walt Whitman Middle School Interior Cameras

Proposal for Walt Whitman Middle School Interior Cameras

Walt Whitman Middle School is considering installing cameras in common areas of the school. The 2013 Virginia General Assembly established the School Security Equipment Grants program in the aftermath of the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.  Some of the grant funding has been proposed to pay for video monitoring systems for Whitman MS to include interior and exterior cameras.  More information regarding the grant can be found here. At the next PTSA meeting scheduled for November 14 at 3:00 PM at Whitman MS, Principal Herring will answer questions and gather feedback.  All are welcome to attend.  If you cannot attend and wish to provide feedback, email Mr. Herring at @email.

The FCPS Office of Safety and Security has determined a plan for the installation at an estimated cost of $110,000.00.  The grant funding, along with the division match, would fully fund the cost.

Beginning in October 2019, the Whitman Leadership Team will begin to gather feedback from students, staff, and parents.  We will be primarily determining whether stakeholders support or oppose the installation along with any other feedback regarding this project.

Frequently Asked Questions


  • Will the video cameras be monitored continuously? No, they will not be routinely monitored, but rather, will be reviewed after an incident occurs. Security personnel in the office of safety and security may access video cameras and images when necessary for their official duties. An example is a school alarm after hours.
  • How long will the images be retained? By regulation, they must be stored for at least 14 days and not more than 30 days.
  • Who can view the images? FCPS staff who need to review and use the images in the course of their official duties may do so. This is typically limited to administrators, security personnel and personnel engaged in disciplinary reviews. The School Resource Officers and the School Liaison Commander are allowed to view the images because they are considered school officials, however no other police personnel are permitted.  Parents may view images of their own students. When a video involves more than one student, the parents of any student who is a primary subject of the video may review the recording but may not have a copy. Parents of students who are in the background do not have a right to view the recording. Employees may view images in which they are the subject.
  • Who will these videos be released to? Disclosure of student images to individuals or organizations outside FCPS may be made only with parent consent (or student consent if the student is 18 years of age or older), in response to subpoena, search warrant or court order, in connection with a health or safety emergency, in response to legal action against the system, or consistent with one of the other exceptions to the disclosure ban in the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act regulations.
  • Are there future costs? The surveillance systems come with a 3-year parts and labor warranty and thereafter are covered under a preventive maintenance and repair contract currently funded centrally. As the number of cameras increase in FCPS, these contract costs are expected to rise. Additionally, once a school receives their initial permission to implement interior video cameras, the principal may consider adding additional ones in the future, if circumstances warrant an expansion.
  • What is the funding source? Principals should provide information on the identified funding that may include non-instructional school based funds, any available proffer funds and, if applicable, any intention to seek bond funding for infrastructure components that have an appropriate life expectancy. Once permission is granted to proceed, bond funding requests may be made to the office of safety and security.
  • If you obtain interior video surveillance, what reporting does the school have to do? Schools that are granted permission to utilize ongoing interior video monitoring are required to submit data regarding the number of incidents in specific areas of the schools in which cameras have been installed and the number of successful investigations of incidents using video recordings. Successful means that the video was helpful in determining what happened in an incident. Additionally, the superintendent is required to annually report to the School Board incident and survey data collected regarding the effectiveness of ongoing interior video monitoring.
  • Are the cameras effective? The experience of FCPS with exterior video surveillance strongly suggests that their use resulted in significant reductions in vandalism at schools that used the systems. FCPS also performed a pilot test of surveillance in the lunch lines to determine if the existence of video cameras were helpful in reducing theft. This pilot test did not show that they were successful in reducing theft, although the principals of the test sites did note that they saw a reduction in inappropriate behavior in the lunch lines.
  • Do other school systems use interior video surveillance? Seventy-seven percent of all public high schools use security cameras to monitor schools (Indicators of School Crime and Safety, U.S. Departments of Justice and Education, November, 2010). Locally, the school divisions that utilize interior video surveillance include the Maryland divisions of Frederick County, Montgomery County and Prince George’s County. In Virginia, Alexandria, Loudoun, Prince William, Fauquier, Stafford, Culpepper and Alexandria school divisions utilize interior cameras. Washington D.C. also uses them.