Davis, CA asked in Education Law and Civil Rights for California

Q: Is it legal to live monitor a security camera in the outdoor areas of a school?

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1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Civil Rights Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: Under California law, it is generally legal for schools to use live monitoring of security cameras in outdoor areas of the school property, subject to certain guidelines and restrictions:

1. Notice: Schools must provide clear notice to students, staff, and visitors that the area is under video surveillance. This is typically done through posted signs.

2. Legitimate purpose: The surveillance must serve a legitimate purpose, such as ensuring safety, preventing crime, or protecting school property.

3. No audio recording: California is a "two-party consent" state, meaning that audio recording requires the consent of all parties. Therefore, security cameras should not record audio without consent.

4. No hidden cameras: Cameras should be placed in plain sight and not hidden from view.

5. No cameras in private areas: Cameras should not be placed in areas where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy, such as restrooms, locker rooms, or private offices.

6. Data protection: Schools must have policies in place to protect the security and confidentiality of the recorded data and limit access to authorized personnel only.

7. Limited retention: The recorded data should only be kept for a limited time as necessary to serve the legitimate purpose, unless required for an ongoing investigation or legal proceeding.

Schools must balance the need for safety and security with the privacy rights of students, staff, and visitors. It's advisable for schools to consult with legal counsel to ensure their security camera policies and practices comply with all applicable laws and regulations.

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