Parents Put a Stop to High School Biometrics

IRVINE, Calif. – Parents of University High School students in Orange County successfully halted the school’s plans to implement a new finger-scanning system to facilitate buying lunch, registering for attendance, buying school event tickets and checking out books.

The technology, parents claimed, is too intrusive, constitutionally suspect and reminiscent of a surveillance society.

The idea to install such a system was first suggested by Assistant Principal Chuck Keith after viewing a television program on school technology. The biometric finger scan system would create a numerical identification of a student’s fingerprint. It would not create an actual image of a fingerprint; rather, it would identify and record a series of points distinguished by the physical properties of the fingerprint and assign them numerical values. Such values would represent a “template” by which to identify individual students.

After receiving a letter in the mail that fingerprinting would begin on Jan. 8, several parents met with school administrators and a representative from identiMetrics Inc., the company that would be responsible for providing the system, to try to discontinue the project.

On Dec. 5, in response to parents’ concerns, the school district overturned the administrators’ plans, effectively putting them on hold for the rest of the year. The district will review the project at a later date.

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