NEW ALBANY, Ind. – The grumbling in New Albany cafeterias isn’t coming from students’ stomachs. It’s from parents.
The southern Indiana school district is one of the latest to deploy technology which “biometric identification to match a finger scan with a personal identification number,” WAVE reports.
According to a notification issued by the New Albany Floyd County school system, the technology is used to “eliminate pin numbers, eliminate misused pin numbers, maintain the privacy of students on subsidized food programs and speed up the amount of time in the lunch line.”
School administrators “refused” to go on camera to discuss the new technology.
But the change in the name of convenience has some parents very concerned.
Halstead opted her children out of the program and to instead continue using a PIN number. But she says her youngest daughter was told she had to participate.
“Marissa said, had she not they weren’t going to give her lunch,” according to the mother. “They’re six and eight (years old.) They don’t need their fingerprint stored.”
The company offering the technology, Horizon Software, disputes Halstead’s concerns.
“It’s basically storing a template that’s a numerical representation of the individual finger print,” according to company vice president Amy Huff. “What’s stored in the system is simply a series of zeros and ones that based on an algorithm of different points on a student’s finger.”
But Halstead may have a legitimate reason to be concerned.
A Pennsylvania school district is scanning students’ thumbprints, tracking all of their lunch purchases, and turning the data over to the federal government.
The Hazleton Area School District recently announced it would be providing free meals to all students, regardless of need.
The move comes after the federal government began incentivizing school districts to provide more meals to more students.
As The Citizens’ Voice reports:
While it would seem that providing all children with lunch would cost districts more, the pilot federal initiative turns that assumption on its ear. The initiative encourages school districts to move toward full participation by providing districts with reimbursements that will in fact absorb the cost of providing lunch to students of all income levels, whether they walk to school — or if a chauffeur drives them.
“We will at least break even, if not come out ahead because of federal reimbursement,” according to district superintendent Craig Butler.
The conclusion comes after the Hazleton district purchased biometric software to track students who receive free or reduced-cost lunches.
The student’s thumbprint was scanned each time he or she received a meal.
“This data provided by the biometrics was made available to the district and federal government for tracking purposes,” the paper reports.