Monday, March 26, 2007

Parents delay scanners in Taunton schools, Massachusetts

After plans to install [this link now broken, see here for story] lunch line biometric fingerprint scanners for all city students in six schools* parents and ACLU have managed stall the mandatory fingerprinting of all students, regardless of whether they eat school lunches, without parental permission.

Even when this had been agreed upon some parents have still not been told that the program is optional, or informed how they can opt out. When the letter went out from one of the schools, the school inadvertently omitted the following line which gave parents 1 day to write in, to opt out.

"If you do not wish to participate in the program, please submit this request in writing by Friday, March 23 to your principals or to the Food Service Director's Office."

Chuck Hart, father of a Chamberlain student, said he has been told by Sheila Kukstis, the school's principal, that a revised letter - including the opt out disclaimer - will be sent home today [March 22nd].

"That gives parents a day to respond," Hart said before the meeting. "This is unbelievable."

This have been very much the case over here in the UK with parents either just being told a day or so before hand, not being told at all or even being told that the school is going to do it anyway and they have no legal obligation to obtain consent from parents.

Here are some comments made by a parent, Mary Heim, who's last comment was the just indignance I felt when my children's biometric data nearly ended up on a PC for a school library system.

"Somehow, my rights as a parent have been waived. Lack of consent isn't implied consent." Heim, the parent of two elementary-aged children, referenced the fourth amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees the right to be secure in one's person.

"How dare you assume or try to record an identifying mark of my child without any thought of asking my permission?" asked Heim. "I do not give consent. Period."

I'll leave the last word to parent Patti Crossman:
"Postpone this until it's done right"

*Edmund Hatch Bennett, Elizabeth Pole, Joseph C. Chamberlain, and East Taunton elementary schools, and James L. Mulcahey and Joseph H. Martin middle schools.

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