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Florida bill would allow cameras in classrooms and microphones on teachers

Florida lawmakers are debating a bill that would allow schools districts to put cameras in classrooms and microphones on teachers. 

The measure was proposed by state Representative Bob Rommel, a Republican from Naples.

"I think if we can do it in a safe way to protect the privacy of students and teachers, I think we should do it," he told CBS Miami. "I haven't heard a response good or bad from any teachers, but … it's not their private space. It's our children's space, too."

But Broward Teachers Union President Anna Fusco told the station a handful of Broward County Public Schools already has them.

"That is happening right now," she said, though under limited circumstances.

According to the Broward County Public Schools website, parents of a student can request that a camera system with visual and audio capability be placed in a classroom if the student has a disability and is an individualized program in which the majority of students has a disability. That's permitted under Florida House Bill 149, which was passed in July.

"Everything that happens in the classroom is monitored, watched and heard all day. There is absolutely zero privacy for anybody, even when … the teacher needs to do a parent-conference on the phone," Fusco said.

She says it's not necessary to video monitor educators at work.

"It's not in every classroom. Not every parent has exercised that right. We have parents that don't want that. It's kind of two-fold.

"If one parent wants it, the camera goes in the room. If the other 10 parents don't want it, they don't have a say," she said.

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Florida state Representative Bob Rommel, a Republican from Naples. https://www.myfloridahouse.gov/representatives

"It can be looked at any time. We don't know how they're going to keep in in record, so they never get that piece out. And also the funding -- there is no funding," Fusco said.

However, should there be a window into a student's classroom in the first place?

"You want to play Big Brother every moment?  That's not how society should be.  We need to get back to where we have trust, we have value, we have faith and we have conversations and we can work things out if something happens," Fusco said.

She warns that the proposal could discourage even more people from turning to teaching in Florida.

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