A student who set a garbage can on fire, an iPod thief and even students smoking at noon have been captured on video surveillance cameras at public high schools in Red Deer over the past school year.
The cameras have been at Hunting Hills High School since the school opened in 1994 and were installed at Lindsay Thurber Comprehensive High School when renovations were completed a few years ago.
Hunting Hills High School administration use the surveillance regularly to look into cases of theft, vandalism and bullying in the school and outside in the parking lot.
At Lindsay Thurber the cameras are used in a similar way to investigate cases of theft, fighting or bullying.
The video cameras were used at Lindsay Thurber to identify a number of students involved in “Kick a Ginger Day” last November.
A Facebook group launched by a B.C. student encouraged students to kick a ginger — or a re-headed student. The Facebook group was thought to have been inspired by an episode of the animated TV show South Park and character Eric Cartman’s hatred of redheads.
“The video surveillance cameras do enhance the extent to which the schools are safe and caring environments for students and staff,” said Don Falk, superintendent of the Red Deer Public School District.
“It’s part of our responsibility to ensure that schools are safe and caring places and although we have extensive supervision at the schools with the staff who are there, staff can’t be everywhere all the time and so the video surveillance enhances the supervision that we provide by enabling the school staff to identify those who have misbehaved . . . and to an extent we believe they serve as a deterrent as well.”
The policy is reviewed annually by the public school district. Video surveillance hasn’t been used at elementary schools, middle schools, Alternative School Programs or at Gateway Christian School.
Falk said under board policy video cameras could be installed at other schools, but there have been no requests from any of the other schools for the surveillance. Falk said schools have an opportunity to set their priorities for facility enhancements and have funds available to make improvements to their facility.
“Up to this point in time none of the schools have made that a priority item. They have other things they’d rather be doing,” he said.