Parents Put a Stop to High School Biometrics

Published: December 13, 2006

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.

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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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