Parents from Washington state’s Puyallup School District successfully ended the implementation of palm-scanners this week after attempts to push the system without parental approval backfired.
According to the district, the devices, which use infrared technology to map vein patterns in students’ palms, would cut back on fraud by linking students pre-paid lunch account information to their biometric data.
“Efficiency is another reason for implementing this. The accuracy of the scanner reduces human error, reduces fraud, the ability for students to share numbers allows parents to know the money that they’re spending is being spent on their child’s lunch,” said Puyallup School District spokesperson Brian Fox to Kiro 7.
Parents were shocked to receive notification letters only a few weeks before the intended mass roll-out, even after two schools already began using the system. The 71 scanners purchased by the district for all 32 schools totaled $38,695.
“To hear those words vein recognition program… it’s very invasive to me,” said parent Christina Allen.
Other parents compared the program to the new controversial Apple iPhone 5S, which links a user’s fingerprint information to unlocking the phone and purchasing apps.
“It’s concerning,” Jeanna Snyder told the News Tribune. “If we put that information out there — it’s data. It’s somewhere.”
Shortly after parent’s expressed their concerns, Puyallup School District officials apologized during a Monday night school board meeting, announcing the end of the program.
“We failed at communication significantly on this,” said board president Chris Ihrig. “We got an ‘F’ on this one.”
While the system may be inherently harmless, the attempted implementation joins countless other surveillance technologies appearing in classrooms across the country.
Just last September, a group of New York engineers announced the development of a “biometric classroom.” According to developers at SensorStar Labs, cameras that track students’ eye movements, conversations and smiles will help teachers improve classroom learning.
Just last year, a high school student in Texas was suspended for refusing an RFID-enabled ID badge that tracked students’ movements during school. The student was later banned from school functions for carrying her old ID card.
The victory in Washington state represents a glimmer of hope in the continued fight against the federal governments attempt to shift the public school system towards a technological surveillance prison.