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Drivers, parents support audio recording on school buses - abc27 WHTM

Drivers, parents support audio recording on school buses

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) -

School bus drivers would welcome a state law that would allow audio recording on school buses, said Eric Epstien of the Central Dauphin School Bus Drivers Association. 

"You can't watch the kids [and] watch the road at the same time," said Epstien. "I think the audio would be extremely helpful, especially when you have incidents involving bullying."

The proposal by Sen. Richard Alloway (R-York, Adams, Franklin) would change the state's wiretap law to allow individual school districts to decide if they want to implement audio recording on their buses.  Video recording is already allowed and Alloway said school bus drivers have been requesting a change to the law. 

A father of two, who is also a pastor and professor, Rev. Dr. James D. Jackson said he approves of the proposal and thinks it could help make buses safer. 

"The bus used to just be a ride into school where you used to have fun, now it's turned into a territorial issues where kids are trying to assert control over children who might not be as aggressive as they are," he said.

Jackson doesn't allow his children to ride the bus: he doesn't believe it's a conducive environment for children to prepare for school.

" I want them to feel secure," he said. "The bus can be a very stressful situation and dealing with what kids are dealing with these day, I personally want my kids entering into the school day ready to learn and not fearful or thinking about other issues."

The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania said they can accept this bill but are afraid it could lead to audio recording on school property. 

"Expanding out audio recording to school buses is less of a concern than making this bigger and allowing audio recording in school," said Andy Hoover, legislative director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania.

Alloway said he's aware of that concern and said he wouldn't approve an expansion of the bill.

"I don't want this to be a slippery slope; I want to keep this narrow," he said. "The purpose of allowing the audio is again to assist the school bus operators in trying to deter bullying and other activity on the buses with kids getting out of line, just video taping sometimes isn't enough."

The bill passed the senate 49 to 1 and will have to be approved by the House of Representatives and governor if it will become law. They House will likely not consider it until the fall.

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