Update 2/10/22: DES MOINES, Iowa – The subcommittee for HF 2177, a bill that will require live video feeds in public school classrooms during instruction time, was canceled on Wednesday after subcommittee member State Rep. Ras Smith, D-Waterloo, was out sick for the day. The bill will not have an opportunity to have a subcommittee before the Iowa Legislature’s first funnel. Bill that are not appropriation bills have to pass out of committee in the chamber they originated in before the first funnel deadline in order to still be considered during the session.
Subcommittee chair State Rep. Ray Sorenson, R-Greenfield, told The Des Moines Register that he was willing to have a conversation about the bill, but never supported it.
“I was never in support of it. I think it needs a lot better fencing if we’re going to do something like that and a lot better explanation and a lot more time honestly to hear from the public on what something like that would look like,” he said.
Several groups such as the Iowa School Mental Health Alliance, One Iowa, National Association of Social Workers, Professional Educators of Iowa, Iowa Safe Schools, Iowa State Education Association, and Iowa Association of School Boards registered against the bill.
No group publicly supported the bill.
Original Report 2/2/22: DES MOINES, Iowa – State Rep. Norlin Mommsen, R-DeWitt, introduced HF 2177, a bill requiring live video feeds in public school classrooms during instruction time.
The bill filed on Tuesday reads, “A school district shall have a camera in each classroom not designated for special education or physical education. The cameras shall be connected to the internet and provide the ability for a parent or guardian of a child in a classroom to obtain access to view the live footage of the camera connected to the child’s classroom.”
Mommsen’s legislation says the state shall pay for the funding of the installation of the cameras out of the school foundation aid. The bill also limits access to the video feed to a student’s parent or guardian and will only be available during the school day.
The bill also states that school employees who “intentionally obstructs, disconnects, or otherwise causes a camera or online site not to function” are guilty of non-compliance. The first offense requires a written reprimand. The second offense carries a fine equal to one percent of that employee’s weekly salary. After that, the violation has a fine of five percent of that employee’s weekly wage.
The legislation also states that a superintendent who does not enforce compliance will incur a fine of five percent of the superintendent’s weekly salary each time an employee of that school district is fined.
Mommsen told The Iowa Torch that the bill’s purpose is “to showcase the great work our teachers do and continue the parent involvement that has begun since COVID.”