According to informational documents presented to the board, the change to DH (LOCAL), a policy that addresses employee standards of conduct in the district, the new procedures would “create a more open environment of communication for all employees.”
Gordon Butler, assistant superintendent of student and staff services, gave an overview of the proposed new language to be added to the policy which reads:
“No employee may make an unauthorized audio or visual recording of a conversation or meeting pertaining to district business unless the employee making the recording notified all participants in the conversation or meeting of the recording. An employee making an authorized recording shall ensure that the recording device is located in plain view for the duration of the conversation or meeting. Secret recording shall be prohibited.”
The policy would not affect recordings involving authorized investigations conducted by district personnel or usually recorded meetings such as board meetings or grievance hearings.
Butler said the district “can't foster a safe and collaborative environment if there's always that thought that somebody is recording the conversation and we don't want conversations to be taken out of context.”
According to a 2018 School Law Seminar paper from two attorneys - including an attorney from the Texas Association of School Boards - this move would not be illegal despite the state of Texas being a one-party consent state. A one-party consent state means only one of the parties to the conversation needs consent to the recording.
Around 30 to 40 districts across the state have implemented a similar policy, Butler told the board.
“I think it's a great idea and I can see how it would help with trust issues,” Board President Eric Lannen said. “Teachers think that they're being recorded and they don't know they're being recorded. It seems only fair for there to be a policy like this.”
The amendment presented to the board was only informational. Trustees will vote on the policy amendment in December.