- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 21, 2015

BURLINGTON, Iowa (AP) - Burlington school administrators will begin wearing body cameras in January, but officials say they’ll only activate them in situations in which they think video would be useful, such as fights on campus.

Superintendent Pat Coen said he decided to buy the devices, which cost about $100 each and can be clipped onto a shirt or ID badge, after a middle school principal was accused of treating a student unfairly. Both the principal and Coen said school surveillance cameras showed there wasn’t any evidence to support the claim, The Hawk Eye and The Des Moines Register reported.

Coen said the body cameras aren’t intended to “interfere with privacy expectations, relationship building and trust between stakeholders.”

“We do not want the outcome of the cameras to have a negative impact on the school and the progress we’re trying to make,” Coen said. “Our objective is to use the body cameras as tools that result in a win-win situation for all parties involved.”

Coen said that before deciding to buy the cameras, he conferred with Muscatine School District administrators also use them.

Administrators discussed Monday how the technology would be used during a meeting in which a draft policy was shared.

Under the policy, officials can wear the devices during conversations with parents related to student discipline. Edward Stone Middle School Principal Brian Johnson expressed some concern in activating the camera in the middle of tense talks with a parent.

“If I’m in a meeting with a parent, and I feel like it’s at the point where I need to turn it on, I’m taking that bad meeting and making it worse,” Johnson said. Johnson suggested having the camera always switched on during those discussions.

A revised draft with adjustments will be sent to administrators before it’s sent to the school board for review.

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