BATON ROUGE–A bill to allow cameras in special education classrooms if parents or legal guardians request them is headed to the Senate floor.

Sen. Franklin Foil, R-Baton Rouge, the author of Senate Bill 86, said he brought the bill forward on behalf of the Louisiana Developmental Disabilities Council and concerned parents.

The bill, which was approved by the Senate Education Committee Thursday, would require public and charter schools to create policies for the implementation of video and audio in special education classrooms.

The cameras would not be allowed near restrooms or anywhere where a child might be unclothed.

Dr. Mary Elizabeth Christian, a physician in Baton Rouge and the mother of a 21-year-old with autism, epilepsy and neuromuscular disorder, recounted her daughter’s experience with a school in East Baton Rouge Parish.

“I will never forget the day when we were in an individualized education planning meeting for my daughter, and the principal proudly told us that Grace was making social progress because they were not having to strap her down nearly as often as they had in the past,” said Christian.

Christian went on to advocate for the bill, stating that it will protect students who cannot speak for themselves, who are vulnerable, and who reside in classrooms that are isolated without windows.

The installation of the cameras could cost up to $8 million, but only if every single special education classroom in Louisiana has a camera. If a camera is not requested by a parent who has a child in the classroom, one will not be installed.

Multiple other parents testified on behalf of their children’s experiences, including Chris Rowe, who has two special needs children in New Orleans. He stated that the disciplinary action against special needs students in twice as likely than against non-special needs students.

Rowe explained that an incident with one of his children was recorded, and it allowed the school to analyze where the staff needed more special training and where physical alterations to the school playground were needed.

Sen. Beth Mizell, R-Franklinton, advocated for the bill as well, stating that even early childhood education centers have cameras and emphasizing the need for them in public schools.

The bill will now move to the Senate floor for further debate.