Education

School district scanned kids’ eyes without parents’ consent

A Florida school district scanned the eyes of 750 students without their parents’ knowledge.

The Polk County School District was carrying out a pilot program to track bus riders administered by the private surveillance company Stanley Convergent Security Solutions, The Lakeland Ledger reports. The district sent parents a letter giving them a chance to opt out of the program, but by the time it was sent, the students’ biometric information had already been collected.

The newspaper’s review of email records indicates the school district’s superintendent, John Stewart, was unaware of the program’s existence until it was too late.  Ann Marshall, a safe schools specialist assigned to the superintendent’s office, promoted the program to several school principals, telling one the district would be able to track students “with a blink of the eye” using the new technology.

Marshall did not respond to one principal’s question about whether the district would be contacting parents about the program.

“It was almost a comedy of errors,” Wes Bridges, the school board’s attorney, told The Ledger.

The biometric information has since been deleted by the company. But some parents remain unhappy that their kids’ information was ever recorded in the first place.

“They have no concept of what they’ve done here,” one parent of an eight-year-old boy at told the Ledger. “I feel like my son’s civil rights were violated.”

Rob Davis, a district administrator, said the district has dropped the iris scanning program due to the parents’ disapproval.