Atlanta Public Schools recently made changes to its security in direct response to an 11Alive investigation.

Two months ago, the 11Alive Investigators uncovered it often takes the district several months to repair broken school security cameras. After the story aired, the district took action by implementing a new policy requiring urgent repairs be completed within 10 days.

While APS was not the only metro Atlanta school district with significant delays, it did take longest to fix cameras. It used to take the district about 61 days to respond to repairs. Today, it averages about 21 days.

To identify the problem, several metro Atlanta school districts provided its security camera repair logs after 11Alive filed a state open records request.

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► Part 1: No one was watching

► Part 2: No one is watching

After the story aired, the district acted by implementing a new policy requiring urgent repairs be completed within 10 days.

NEW POLICY:

When I camera is identified as an “Urgent Repair” by an APS technician, it will be repaired, or replaced, within 10 business days from the date of discovering inoperability. Depending on inventory, vendor stock, bidding process, shipping or other supply relevant factors, additional days may be required. Moreover, if the inability to produce, receive remote commands, or otherwise transmit data, is relevant to the infrastructure of the Information Technologies Department, said repair falls outside the purview of the Office of Safety & Security, and it is to be promptly reported to the appropriate parties, within the above specified time frame, so actions may be taken to regain camera operability.

Georgia’s largest school district keeps security camera repair logs secret

When Phaedra Redding applied for teaching positions last summer, she had her eyes on only one school district – Gwinnett County Public Schools.

“I have several families who live here and they spoke so highly of Gwinnett County,” Redding said.

She landed a job as a sixth-grade language arts teacher at Lilburg Middle School.

That enthusiasm didn’t last long.

A few months later, someone stole her cell phone from her classroom desk. Fellow teachers also accused her son, who attended the same school, of not following the rules two different times while in a school hallway.

“I said, you know, that doesn’t sound like my son,” Redding said.

She requested to view the school security camera video to see what happened and if anyone was near her classroom when her phone went missing.

The district checked and her principal emailed her back, “Since there is no direct camera view of your room… [security] was not able to view if anyone went into your classroom. I felt very unsafe at the school.”

“Three different times I requested video camera footage that concerned myself and my family, and I was not granted that wish," Redding said.

Gwinnett school officials told 11Alive it couldn’t provide that wish because the cameras didn’t catch anything. Either the cameras were pointed in a different direction or camera could not zoom in enough to identify what happened.

When 11Alive requested the district’s security camera repair logs, it cited a state law which allows it to keep the documentation secret.

"There is in the code, part of the code says you don’t have to release information if it could create a safety concern," Sloan Roach, the district’s communications director, said.

Sloan said the public should trust the district maintains the cameras appropriately. "They are well maintained. We don’t have a lot of cameras that are down,” Sloan said.

While Atlanta Public Schools has a policy requiring urgent camera repairs be fixed within 10 days, Gwinnett has no plans to implement a similar response policy. Sloan reiterated that the public should trust it responds to repair requests quickly.

“We have a really good response rate. So, that’s not something I’m aware of that they’re looking at," Sloan said.

Redding, who plans to work at another school district, believes the Gwinnett Public Schools is hiding something.

“I wouldn’t understand why they wouldn’t not want to give it. Any logical thinking person would think that that they’re trying to hide something,” Redding said.

Georgia’s largest school district keeps security camera repair logs secret