Officials squash security camera rumors

AMHERST – School officials say security cameras will remain at the middle school and there are no plans to remove them.

At a recent school board meeting, Principal Porter Dodge said he has had phone calls from people who had heard a rumor that the cameras will be taken down.

Dodge noted that years ago he was the one who presented the proposal for cameras to the board, along with a door lock system and other protective measures.

The district’s policy committee is working to clarify the language on cameras to make sure the devices can never be shut off, he said.

Superintendent Peter Warburton said removing the cameras is not something he could, or would do.

“There have been absolutely no conversations about removing cameras from any school in Amherst,” he said. “I would never recommend that.”

Amherst School District Policy EEAA, can be read on the SAU 39 website, and it begins by saying, “The Board authorizes the use of video surveillance devices on District property to ensure the health, welfare, and safety of all staff, students, and visitors to District property and to safeguard District buildings, grounds, and equipment.”

It deals with live surveillance, location and signage, viewing and retention of video recordings.

Board member Terri Behm also clarified the kind of cameras at the school, saying they are not fake – “they are real, live cameras.”

Interior security cameras were installed in the middle and elementary schools years ago, but not in the high school, where they are an issue.

A public forum on the issue in October brought dozens of parents who spoke on both sides.

The Souhegan Cooperative High School school resource officer recommends them, along with the closing of the open campus, and the Community Council has resisted them.

The council, made up of students, staff and community members, is taking another look at security and is expected to make a recommendation in December.