OUSD puts up $3 million in cameras


If you are on a high school or middle school campus in the Oakland Unified School District, you are being watched.

That’s because the district is putting 750 new video cameras at 25 middle and high schools across the city, under a $3 million security upgrade program. You will be watched by people on your campus, the police and people at the downtown district offices. You might even be watched on computer monitors at district officials’ homes.

The U.S. Department of Justice gave $1.5 million for the cameras and the district is using modernization funds for the rest.

The idea for the district to put more cameras on campus is to reduce vandalism and other crimes. These cameras are also on people who might be doing harm to you or to your personal belongings.

Fremont Federation of High Schools is one of the campuses getting new cameras; probably about 17 cameras will be added. Already, there are 32 working cameras on campus, according to School Safety Officer Tiffany Couch.

Couch is very happy that more cameras are being installed.

“It was a big request of mine,” she said.

The supervisor of Fremont Federation’s school safety officers, Al Rhodes, agreed with Couch. When asked if the cameras were a good idea, he answered: “Yes, Yes, Yes!”

Couch said there are six officers on campus and the cameras will be “more eyes” than they normally have.

One concern that Couch has is that the district will be cutting 17 positions.

Although, there will be more cameras installed in public areas, there will not be any cameras placed in bathrooms, classrooms or offices.

Some think that the cameras won’t change anything and the money spent on the cameras should be used for more useful things.

“I don’t think it’s going to stop anything from happening,” said Seng So, Youth Together Cite Organizer at Fremont. “I don’t think they need to put more money on cameras, but we should be putting it on classes, like books and your resources and after school programs.”

Bunthea Em, an Architecture Academy senior, is also doubtful the cameras will make a difference.

“People are still going to get robbed,” he said.

“We are going to feel watched everywhere we go,” he added.

While many students think that more cameras are an invasion of privacy, many teachers and principals think differently.

“It’s not an invasion of privacy,” said Architecture Academy Assistant Principal Emiliano Sanchez. “In school, you do not expect to have privacy.