Camera surveillance in Fairfax County schools considered by school board

Fairfax County school officials are considering a plan to add surveillance cameras inside schools.

Fairfax County high school principals hope to avoid scenes such as the violent food fights at the end of last school year at West Springfield and Centreville High School.

"It would have helped with the food fight, when two kids were injured and we had to call 911,” said Centreville High School Principal Mike Campbell.

Two students were arrested after the food fight "turned into a mob fight," as one student put it. West Springfield officials threatened to cancel prom over the food fight there.

Campbell says the cameras positioned outside his school have proven worthwhile. He thinks another set of eyes in common areas like hallways and cafeterias would not only deter food fights, but also bullying, stealing and flash mobs.

"You’re going to have potentially 600 students creating a disruption and that can pretty serious," he said.

The proposal requires school board approval. Member Sandy Evans has a number of concerns, including the lack of student, parent and teacher input.

"I feel that our young people are by and large very responsible, mature young people and we don't have to be trying to record everything that they do,” Evans said. "I'm very torn on the issue."

Rosemary and Bill Wright's daughter attends West Springfield high. They're worried about the cost of the surveillance cameras.

"It's a lot of money to pay, but if it's my kid was being bullied I would want the cameras in there,” they said. "I think it might be a deterrent but if you said it might cost a million dollars that seems like a lot of money to prevent a food fight.”

The total cost depends on how many cameras are installed.

Will issue play a role in the school board elections in November? The question looms as the present school board has to decide whether to take up the issue now or pass it on to the next board.