Campus Cards, College and University Identification and Security

School tries to reason with parents over use of biometric equipment

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Scalby School officials are receiving a lot of heat from their decision to implement biometric equipment, according to a local news report.

The school, located in Scarborough, UK, recently introduced a cashless payment system and library checkout program that functions by reading students’ fingerprints.

School officials assure parents that the fingerprint system is not nearly as complex as ones at their local police stations, and that the system will in fact give students great freedom and provide their parents with more control.

“It allows parents to find out what their children are spending their money on and making sure they are eating a healthy meal,” says the school’s head teacher. “It also takes away the potential stigma of fellow students finding out if one of their peers is entitled to a free lunch.”

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Florida Gov. Rick Scott is expected to sign a bill that would ban biometric in schools throughout the state. In this latest edition of the Regarding ID podcast, legislators detail why they think a ban is necessary instead of providing an opt-out provision. Senator Dorothy Hukill (R – Port Orange) says the biometric ban is intended to protect students from having their identities stolen even though she admits that there is no recorded instance of a biometric database being breached and used to steal an individual’s identity.  

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The use of biometrics in schools is once again the topic of debate in the Florida legislature, with lawmakers considering a proposal that would prohibit school districts from collecting biometric information – including fingerprints, handprints, iris and voice.

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Students at Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire, Ill. have been swiping on and off the school bus for a couple of years but now parents can check when and where they tapped their IDs with a system from MyFirstPass, developed by the First Student bus company.

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State College Area High School is now using school-issued IDs to log student attendance and record violations.

Beginning April 7, State College Area High School students will swipe their student identification card upon arriving at school in the morning. Curtis Johnson, associate principal at State High School North, insists the new system will improve the accuracy of attendance records and hopefully raise academic performance as students won’t be able to fake class attendance.

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The use of biometrics in schools is a hot-button issue, and one that raises significant concerns over the privacy and civil rights of young people. When conducted without the express consent of students – and more importantly their parents and guardians – the results can be disastrous. Just ask the folks at the Polk County School District.

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The much-publicized biometrics bill in the state of Florida – SB 188 proposed by Sen. Dorothy Hukill, R-Port Orange – has passed through he House without any additional amendments. The bill awaits Gov. Rick Scott’s signature before becoming law.

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