Florida parents are right to be outraged at the outrageous privacy violations that took place late last week in at least 3 Polk County, Florida schools.
I just got off the phone with Rob Davis, senior director of support services for the district, who confirmed to me what Florida education activists blew the whistle on here: Students were indeed subjected to iris scans without their parents’ permission.
The schools involved:
Daniel Jenkins Academy
Davenport School of the Arts
Davis told me that “it is a mistake on our part” that a notification letter to parents did not go out on May 17. He blamed a secretary who had a “medical emergency.” Instead of verifying that parents received the letter and ensuring that any families who wanted to opt out had a chance to so, the schools allowed officials from Stanley Convergent Security Solutions to take iris scans of an unknown number of students as part of a “pilot” security program for students who take the bus to the three above-named schools.
Davis told me those unauthorized scans took place on May 22 and May 23 last week, right before the Memorial Day holiday weekend. Schools were notified that Stanley was coming. But not parents.
In addition, the district had planned to conduct a pilot scan program with another security company, Blinkspot. Students who ride seventeen school buses were planned to be a part of the scanning regime.
Davis says all of the data has been destroyed.
So has the trust parents have in these negligent educrats violating family privacy in the name of “safety.”
Davis says the district’s superintendent and attorney met on Tuesday. Lawyering up is probably a good idea.
The vigilant parent who blew the whistle on Facebook writes:
have been in touch with the principal at my son’s school this morning regarding the iris scans. She verified everything my son told me, she says the scans were completed on May 22. She said that she was following instructions from the Polk County School Board (PCSB), and that she knew very little, if anything, about this before it occurred, she just did as she was told. She gave me the name and number for her two contacts at the PCSB whom she said were pulling these strings on this “security pilot program”.
By the time we were able to make a phone call to PCSB (a time span of about 1 hour), the secretary told us that this pilot program had been suspended. When we did get a return call from one contact, she reiterated that the program has been suspended, like this should appease us. My husband continued to ask where our son’s private scans were, and she said the company was instructed to destroy the information. When we asked how do we know this has happened, there was no answer.
It is interesting that this letter went home on Friday afternoon at 3pm. Like I told you originally, everyone was gone by 4pm when I tried to make calls. So when exactly did this program get suspended? As of Friday afternoon, it was still in effect. Are they trying to say that somehow it was suspended by Tuesday morning (Monday being a holiday)? It seems like they are mostly focused on this program, like the program was the problem. It’s not, it’s the invasion of my family’s Constitutional right to privacy that is the problem, as well as the school allowing a private company access to my child without my consent or permission. This is stolen information, and we cannot retrieve it.
This is of a piece with the threat that the federalized Common Core student databases pose to students and families. See my reporting on that here.
If you see something, say something.
Remember: BOLO is our watchword now.