Defenders investigation leads to new AISD guidelines


by ANDY PIERROTTI / KVUE News and photojournalist DEREK RASOR

Bio | Email | Follow: @AndyP_KVUE

Posted on June 17, 2013 at 10:25 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jun 18 at 7:53 AM

AUSTIN -- Austin Independent School District has new guidelines requiring staff to quickly fix broken school security cameras. The changes are in direct response to a KVUE Defenders investigation that found some cameras taking months to repair.

For example, district maintenance showed a request from staff at LBJ High School showed multiple cameras were in "exceedingly bad condition." It took staff 46 days to repair the cameras.

At McCallum High School, records show it took staff about four months to fix four cameras.

"Anytime you don't have the ability to see certain areas that could have a potential for something to happen, yeah, it could be a concern," explained AISD Police Chief Eric Mendez in an interview with KVUE a few months ago.

While Mendez says most of the Districts 3,600 cameras work 97 percent of the time, the district did not have anything in writing requiring staff to repair the cameras within a certain time period.

About four weeks after the Defenders' interview with the chief, he created new written guidelines.  According to the new department directive, school district staff must respond "within 24 hours" to camera maintenance requests.

The guidelines also state "when a camera is identified as an 'urgent repair' by the LSS technician, the camera will be repaired within 10 days.”

AISD Board Trustee President Vincent Torres says the change is positive, “because we now have a way to document what we are doing," Torres said.

Torres says the guidelines are similar to what Houston ISD requires. The KVUE Defenders provided the district with a copy of Houston’s guidelines while investigating the original story.

"In talking with the chief. He said the document you provided him was a template to formulate what he did and saved him some time," explained Torres.

The guidelines also give repairs that need special equipment and parts extra time to fix cameras, but the district still requires those repairs to be completed in 18 days.

Torres says the guidelines were already goals staff accomplished nearly daily, but they both agree having it in writing adds more accountability and allows repairs to be better tracked.

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