CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — They are designed to help protect special needs students in the Mountain State. Today Governor Jim Justice signed two bills into law, aimed at protecting our most vulnerable.

This all came about after some shocking allegations of abuse that resulted in criminal charges against some teachers.

Dozens of special needs students and their parents joined the governor for the bill signing.

The law now mandates that video cameras are put in all special education classrooms that can be reviewed by local school boards. Another bill signed into law also makes it a felony to abuse any child and others can be charged if they see abuse and fail to report it. The bills, in large part, came after allegations of abuse of students at Holz Elementary School and Mann Middle School in Charleston, as well as another school in the Eastern Panhandle.

“It’s going to keep them safe in the classroom, make her parents feel more comfortable that their kids are safe in the classrooms. So that they don’t have to resort to their only option to keep them safe, maybe home schooling them or something. They can feel confident they are safe in the school system,” said Craig Bowden, a parent of special needs child who was abused.

“Why we’re really here, is all these incredible gifts that God has given us in every way. And that’s our children,” said Gov. Jim Justice, (R) West Virginia.

Now under the new law, school administrators are required to view at least 15-minutes of special education classroom video every-90 days, and certainly more often if there are problems or complaints.
The videos are also allowed to be released to investigators and attorneys looking into complaints.

Once again, the other bill made it a felony to verbally or physically abuse a student, or to fail to report abuse. Prior to today, those charges were misdemeanors.