Teachers Object To Eyeglass Cam

Thursday, September 30, 2010 - 2:41pm

Principal used high-tech glasses to record teachers in class.

Teachers have long used video cameras to record and evaluate their performance in the classroom, but one North Carolina principal's use of an "eyeglasses cam" has upset some teachers who call it "creepy."

Principal David Legrand at Villa Heights Elementary in Charlotte asked teachers to sign a form last week acknowledging that they would be videotaped as part of their teacher evaluation.

The form explicitly states that it is not a request for permission.

"This is not a consent form, for this will occur...." the form states.

Still, some teachers say they were surprised when Legrand began wearing strange-looking glasses around the elementary school, described as looking like the safety glasses a basketball player might wear.

In the bridge of the glasses there is a tiny camera the size of a pinhole.

In the temple piece, there is a digital video recorder.

"The idea behind that is to provide the most unobtrusive way to record without disrupting the students," says Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools spokeswoman Latarzja Henry.

Judy Kidd, president of the Classroom Teachers Association of North Carolina, says a principal with strange glasses sitting in a classroom is bound to be disruptive.

"Is this big brother watching?" Kidd asks. "I don't think it's right."

Henry says the principal told teachers he would be using the glasses and that they had an option to decline being recorded on video.

"This is not an attempt to do 'gotcha' observations," Henry says.

Still, several teachers say the "glasses-cam" surprised and upset them.

"Most teachers aren't aware they don't have to sign; most teachers aren't aware you can say no," says Kidd.

Henry says the principal paid $125 for the glasses, using school funds and that "eyeglass cams" had been used at James Martin Middle School last year to evaluate teacher performance.

Kidd says the school system's taping policy doesn't go both ways.

She says one assistant principal was demoted and transferred for audio taping an administrator to document what she claimed was abusive language and demeanor.

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