Camera Concerns: Broward middle school student beaten, but surveillance camera was broken

(WSVN) - It has been one year since the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the tragedy highlighting the importance of surveillance cameras inside and outside schools. But as 7’s Brian Entin shows us, finding out which cameras are broken is not easy. Here’s our special report “Camera Concerns.”

When you pull up to your child’s school, you notice right away there are lots of surveillance cameras.

Broward County Public Schools have more than 10,000 cameras.

They were key to investigating the shooting at MSD last year.

But are all of the school cameras always recording?

This dad says he learned the hard way when a camera at his son’s school was not working.

Derris Buck, father: “All kinds of incidents have been happening all over the country, and you’re telling me that cameras aren’t functioning and my child is injured?”

Derris Buck’s 11-year-old son was beaten in the cafeteria at Parkway Middle School in Lauderhill.

He had massive swelling in his eye. Police were called, and his son was taken to the hospital.

But when Derris asked to see the recording of the fight, he said he was told this by a school administrator…

Derris Buck: “‘No footage. The cameras are down.’ I felt like that was very irresponsible on their behalf.”

The school district confirmed to 7News the camera was out of service for a week.

Derris Buck: “She said there was a work order in place for the camera to get fixed.”

Brian Entin: “We wanted to know how many cameras have been broken in Broward schools, where they’re located and how quickly they get fixed. But after weeks of back and forth with the school district, they were not answering our questions.”

A district spokeswoman told us, “Due to security exemption and exposure to security risk and vulnerability, we are declining response to this question.”

For more general questions about cameras, we were “confirmed for an interview with the superintendent.”

But days later, we were told not only would we not get an interview with the superintendent, but that the district would not allow us to interview anyone.

So we found Superintendent Robert Runcie outside a Broward County Public School Board meeting.

Brian Entin: “We’re doing a story about school surveillance cameras. Can you tell us what the district has done to upgrade them?”

Robert Runcie, BCPS superintendent: “Yes, the first thing we did was back in January. The district invested — this was well before the tragedy … We invested over $5 million to upgrade all our camera systems at every one of Broward County Public Schools to digital, more state-of-the-art systems.”

Runcie said they’re spending another $6 million to add 2,500 new cameras to schools.

He also said that they have a federal grant for new, high-tech cameras that will recognize movement and break down less.

With so many upgrades, we asked Runcie what went wrong at Parkway Middle.

Robert Runcie: “What I will tell you is that we have over 10,000 cameras in this district. When we find cameras that need repair, it’s a priority. We will get to them and we will make sure they’re replaced.”

Ten thousand cameras districtwide and millions spent, but this dad said that with no video, he’ll never know exactly what happened to his son.

Derris Buck: “There is no excuse at all. No excuse. Unacceptable.”

While Broward wouldn’t provide specifics about broken cameras, Miami-Dade County Public Schools did.

The district told 7News they have repaired or replaced almost 2,000 cameras since the Parkland shooting.

They have also spent $4 million installing new camera systems at more than 100 schools.

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