On February 4, 2014, the Governor signed into law changes to the Crimes Code (Title 18) regarding wire tapping and electronic surveillance and how it can affect your children riding the school bus. I have copy a link to the Bill below. The most important change seems to address the intercepting of conversations for “disciplinary” or “security” purposes. What is not clear is whether these conversations must only be about school related matters, or if the recording can be used for other purposes, e.g. domestic relations, criminal conduct by a non-party, etc. Obviously, this will be playing out in the Courts in the future. The Bill’s sponsor gave this statement in 2012 regarding the necessity for it’s change and passage:
||December 7, 2012 10:15 AM
||Senator Richard Alloway
||All Senate members
||Audio Taping on School Busses
In the near future, I plan to reintroduce SB1117 of 2011. This legislation would allow for audio taping on school busses. Currently videotaping can be done on school busses but audio taping is not allowed as some feel that it is a violation of the Wiretap Act.
For two decades, school districts have used video monitoring of school buses for student security and discipline purposes. This has been a valuable tool in resolving discipline action and has helped reduce violent acts on school buses because the students know that there is a camera on the bus.
As technologies advanced in the video surveillance systems used in school buses audio capabilities were also incorporated. School districts also found that this enhanced capability enabled them to have a more accurate account of the situation and also helped in reducing verbal bullying.
Allowing school buses an exemption from the Pennsylvania Wiretapping laws will be a measure towards a safer school bus environment. In this day and age where bullying is very prevalent in and out of school, having all the resources available to control behavior and resolve issues will help ensure a safe ride for all students. When schools and contractors have the use of audio in conjunction with the video discipline issues are resolved faster and with more certainty.
SB117 of 2011 was co-sponsored by: Alloway, Solobay, Washington, Rafferty, Leach, Brewster, Argall, Baker, Dinniman, and Erickson.
Published by Phillip A. Simon, Esquire
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