Iris Scanning Program In Florida Schools Has Parents Seeing Red

Retina scanning programs implemented as part of an experimental safety protocol in three Polk County, Florida schools has been abruptly halted as the parents of the minors were not notified prior to the students being scanned for data.

Over the years, we’ve seen schools argue the application of uniforms, id badges/cards, and metal scanners, and now it seems several Florida faculties want to add retina scanners all in the name of safety. It’s like our kids are practicing for future TSA pat-downs every time they head off to school for the day.

According to an Examiner report, three Florida schools – Daniel Jenkins Academy, a high school, Davenport School of the Arts, a middle school, and Bethune Academy, an elementary school – planned to use a pilot security program run by Stanley Convergent Security Solutions, but were thwarted after parents were notified days after the measure began.

A letter, stating their children had been selected to participate in a safety pilot program utilizing EyeSwipe-Nano in lieu of the student id cards, was mailed out to parents and dated for 23rd. The pilot was vaguely scheduled to begin during the 2013-2014 school year, where approximately 17 units would be installed in the participating schools.

But according to students the program was already underway as scans were taken on May 22, prior to the parental notification. By the time guardians were properly alerted the security firm had already captured and recorded an unknown number of irises.

A Facebook post, under the pseudonym Floridians Against Common Core Education – as the concerned parent did not want to be addressed by her real name – detailed her experience regarding her son – citing outrage that the Polk County School Board had failed to request permission or consent, and prematurely moved ahead with the security venture.

“I have been in touch with the principal at my son’s school,” the enraged parent starts. “She verified everything my son told me, she says the scans were completed on May 22. She said that she was following instructions from the Polk County School Board (PCSB), and that she knew very little, if anything, about this before it occurred, she just did as she was told.”

Due to the timing, parents were unable to immediately address the issue or even verify whether or not their child had been processed by the security firm until after the Memorial holiday. “It is interesting that this letter went home on Friday afternoon at 3 pm … everyone was gone by 4pm when I tried to make calls.”

It’s annoying when you get a piece of mail the last minute on a Friday and you can’t deal with it until Monday, err in this case Tuesday. By the time parents made contact they were informed the pilot had been suspended.

“Like this should appease us. My husband continued to ask where our son’s private scans were, and she [a secretary with PCSB] said the company was instructed to destroy the information. When we asked ‘How do we know this has happened,’ there was no answer.” Not comforting.

The mother continued on with the invasion of their Constitutional rights to privacy when the school proceeded to steal her child’s information without consent.

Do you feel the schools violated the privacy rights of students when they captured iris images for their new program? Should they have expressly requested permission or given parents the option between the scans and id cards first?

[Image via Shutterstock]