After Central High incident, councilman wants more cameras in Providence schools

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – In an effort to improve security in Providence schools following an altercation that led to an assistant principal resigning from his job last month, a councilman is calling for cameras to be installed in every classroom in the city.

Councilman John Igliozzi, a Democrat from Ward 7, also wants cameras installed in hallways, gyms and cafeterias, “as well as in any other area where students interact with school staff,” according to a resolution he will introduce at Thursday’s council meeting.

“Every time a child wakes up and gets on a bus to go to a Providence school, they should feel safe in that environment no matter what,” Igliozzi said.

The nonbinding resolution does not include an estimate for how much it would cost to install hundreds of new cameras in Providence’s 42 public schools.

“We already have existing cameras in our schools, around the perimeters of the buildings and in the hallways,” he said. “So I’m just looking to expand the system into the cafeterias, auditoriums, and the classrooms.”

Last month an assistant principal at Central High School resigned after he was caught on video pinning a 15-year-old boy to the ground during an altercation. The boy allegedly assaulted two staff members, but the video prompted calls for the administrator to be fired.

“As we do not have access to students’ phones, it is important and necessary to ensure that other means are available to see the full picture of each interaction between students and school employees,” Igliozzi’s resolution states.

The resolution also points to the alleged molestation of several children at Harry Kizirian Elementary School by a physical education teacher last school year. The teacher, James Duffy, has been charged with six counts of second-degree child molestation on four 11-year-old girls.

Igliozzi’s proposal notes that most schools already have camera systems in central areas in schools and outside the school.

The Providence Teachers Union contract expired in August, but a provision in the agreement states an “inter-communication system or any audio or video recording device shall not be used for observation or evaluation.”

The resolution states that the contract should “clarified such that security cameras installed in classrooms are included in any exemptions to prohibition.”

“We have to protect our children and staff, but our children are our priority,” Igliozzi said.

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Dan McGowan ( dmcgowan@wpri.com ) covers politics, education and the city of Providence for WPRI.com. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter: @danmcgowan