Who’s Tracking Your Children?

The school year may be over for most American students, but parents must remain as vigilant as ever when it comes to protecting their children’s privacy. Look no further than the shocking, invasive conduct of the Polk County, Fla., educational district last week. It’s a surveillance-state sign of the times.

Two days before their Memorial Day weekend break, kids from at least three different public schools — Bethune Academy (K-5), Davenport School of the Arts (K-5, middle and high school), and Daniel Jenkins Academy (6-12) — were subjected to iris scans without their parents’ knowledge or consent. The scans are essentially optical fingerprints, which the school intended to collect to create a database of biometric information for school bus security.

One mother took to Facebook to decry the outrageous breach after her son informed her of the unauthorized imaging. She posted a face-saving letter from Polk County Senior Director of Support Services Rob Davis notifying families only after the high-definition eye scans had been conducted.

The mom, April Serrano of Kissimmee, Fla., recounted: "I 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 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."

The principal "did as she was told," no questions asked, just like a compliant servant of Big Brother is expected to do. Thank goodness for whistle-blowing parents unafraid to speak truth to mind-numbed power.

I phoned Davis, the school bureaucrat who oversaw the intrusive iris scan initiative, on Wednesday after education reform activists spread the word about Serrano’s protest across social media. He confirmed to me that the Orwellian incident indeed took place. Davis sheepishly admitted that it was "a mistake on our part" that a notification letter to parents did not go out earlier in the month. He then blamed a secretary who had a "medical emergency" for the administrative mishap.

But this was far more than an innocent clerical error. 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 into the schools to take iris scans of an unknown number of students as part of a "pilot" security tracking program for students who ride the bus. Stanley operates "identity management" systems using "Eyelock biometric readers" that "ensure maximum convenience with unprecedented accuracy."

The participating Polk County schools were all notified, but somehow the parents of students who ride on a total of 17 school buses to the three schools were all left in the dark. In addition, the district had planned to conduct a pilot scan program with another security company, Blinkspot.

Davis says all of the data have been destroyed. So has the trust parents had in these negligent educrats violating family privacy in the name of "safety." Parents have asked the school board for proof that the records have been wiped. Unsurprisingly, school officials have clammed up now that they are under public scrutiny.

"I am outraged and sickened by this blatant disregard for my son’s constitutional right to privacy and my parental rights over my son," Serrano told me this week. Another affected mom, Connie Turlington, also publicly challenged the school district on local TV station WFLA: "This is a fingerprint of my child. Where does this information live? Who has a hold of it? … My question is: How is it deleted, and how can we be assured as parents that it’s gone?"

These parents are not alone. School districts across the country are contracting with private tracking firms to monitor students. Some are using radio frequency tracking technology (RFID) to log movements. Khaliah Barnes, the open government counsel with the Washington, D.C.-based Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), spelled out the chilling implications for freedom of speech, religion and association in a recent CBN interview: "Imagine for example a student being dissuaded from attending a political interest group because she fears that the tracking technology will alert the principal or other administrators where her political affiliations lie."

Now, add the threat that the nationalized Common Core student databases pose to students and families. As I’ve reported previously, the feds are constructing an unprecedented nationwide student tracking system to aggregate massive amounts of personal data — including health-care histories, income information, religious affiliations, voting status and even blood types and homework completion.

The data will be available to a wide variety of public agencies. And despite federal student-privacy protections guaranteed by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, the Obama administration is paving the way for private entities to buy their way into the data boondoggle. EPIC is now suing the federal Department of Education over its regulatory sabotage of privacy protections.

Those who scoff at us "paranoid" parents for pushing back at Big Brother in the classroom suffer from an abject failure of imagination about government tyranny. Control freaks in public education understand all too well: The hand that tracks our children rules the world.

Michelle Malkin is the author of "Culture of Corruption: Obama and his Team of Tax Cheats, Crooks and Cronies" (Regnery 2010). Her e-mail address is malkinblog@gmail.com.

COPYRIGHT 2013 CREATORS.COM

  • wally12

    M. Malkin: Good article. This procedure of an iris scan on school children is insane. I would favor it as a tool for law enforcement for felons. Oh that is right, the education system is way ahead of us citizens. They see the danger in things that we common folks do not. That explains why a gun chewed out of a piece of pastry is a weapon and demands that the child must be punished. If this insanity keeps up, the child who brings a toy gun to school must be sent to prison with a life sentence and yet an child molester or an abortionist is set free. Go figure.

  • Debdeb

    Good topic. It highlights a blatant disregard for the voice and wisdom of parents concerning their child’s well being and identity.

    You motivated me to learn about iris scans. It looks like the school board did pick the best type of scan [no reported health hazards, no forensic capabilities like finger prints, no ability to fake an iris scan]. Identity theft and fraud is possible only if an insider purposefully links the iris scan to a wrong name. The concern is not that the child has an iris scan in the database but that the child may have an identity [personal information] put into a shared database. The parents and school needs to know if identity information is stored on each child in the database, who has access to the database and they need to ensure that there is a trusted process for its permanent deletion. I think, as a parent, I would approve a visual scan as long as it was not linked to any identity other than a particular bus and school and it was deleted at the end of the school year.

    Is the school board planning on using the scan each time the child boards the bus?

  • Drew Page

    Outrageous is becoming, or already has become, an overworked description of government behavior. Unfortunately it is apt in this case. This is yet another example of government overreach, an unwarranted invasion of privacy in the name of “protection”. Bunk. This is one of many reasons that the U.S. Department of Education should be abolished. It has become a bloated bureaucracy, looking to expand its authority, staff and budget. None of those at the Dept. of Education actually teach children. We spend more money per pupil than any other country and yet the consensus seems to be that many kids are less educated today than ever before. Parents can’t be held to blame, they are voters, many of whom actually pay taxes. Kids can’t be blamed, that might hurt their self-esteem. It must be the school’s fault, but certainly not the school board’s, after all, they were elected. Ergo, it must be the teachers’ fault. They are at fault because they have not found the way(s) to motivate the students to learn, to pay attention and take notes in class, to do their homework and seek extra help. All student failure is the result of teachers’ failures, no matter what. So the answer is to institute more “teacher accountability”. What additional steps should teachers be taking to ensure that “no child is left behind”? We have seen creative ideas coming out of the Depart. of Education such as doing away with homework, letting kids ‘learn at their own pace’, which means giving ‘pre-tests’, prior to the ‘real test’, letting kids take the ‘real test’ over and over until they can pass it. These days a grade of 60% on a test is passing. An added advantage of test and exams retakes is that average test scores (on which schools are evaluated) go up. Education should be left up to the states and the federal government should keep out of it.

  • FloridaJim

    That is the progressive agenda they want to know all about everyone and not tell the truth about anything. If you look at history you will find Hitler, Mao, Stalin did the same. Obama , Mr. Transparency, cannot be trusted with anything.

  • criolle

    “Winston Smith: Call Your Office!”

  • Joe Chernicoff

    The blame for this growing authoritarian, state controlled country lies with those uneducated, ignorant, and disaffected people who voted for, and continue to support, the Obama administration, as well as those registered voters who, for one personal reason or another, did not bother to vote in the 2012 election. Maybe the current scenario will wake some of those citizens up, just maybe…

    • plsilverman

      yeah, those ignorant people who stood in line 8 hours to vote for Barack Obama. I’m sure they all were unaware of the Swing State Voter Suppression program.

      • BB61

        Apparently you are one of them. Trying to deflect the issue with sarcasm, pointless counter points, and typical troll behavior

        • plsilverman

          one of whom? AND point out the “deflection”, please.
          AND explain the over-use of the word “troll”. does it ever apply to right wing extremists?

          • BB61

            One of ” those ignorant people who stood in line 8 hours to vote for Barack Obama”. It’s always a lib tactic to run from the issue and spout some obscure event in history. (swing state voter suppression) Bottom line here is that there is an attempt to slowly strip parental responsibility and rights away so the can start their child indoctrination earlier. This is not an article about low information voters, voter intimidation and/or suppression. Keep on point

          • plsilverman

            was responding to one of the statements about those “ignorant” people who vote for stuff they do not understand…not ignorant these days….standing on line 8 hrs. suggests patience and understanding in this information age.

          • Drew Page

            Those voting for Santa Claus aren’t stupid; they want free stuff and will vote for anyone who promises them the most, even if they have to wait in line for eight hours to do it.
            The really stupid people are those conservatives who stayed home on election day because they didn’t think that Romney was “conservative enough”. These people would rather pass up a cancer treatment that was only 90% effective, if they can’t find one that is 100% effective.

          • plsilverman

            I heard that “Santa Claus” Foxnews
            tripe, too. Obama’s gunna give ‘em stuff. He did give 95% of ALL TAXPAYERS a tax break-never raised taxes once on them.
            extending unemployment? a big gift? maybe so…considering that the GOP systematically blocked infrastructure and production jobs across the country..where are the blue collar workers supposed to go? to the U.I. line…where Romney has sent scores of people who were working in still viable companies he raided…and sent their jobs away. But I give Romney credit..he sent his cut away, too. (in one case a million $$$$ dollars he pocketed from a raid). HE SENT his spoils to overseas accounts.
            in a way, he gave thosxe lazy, arrogant, TAKERS, that 47% who fight the manufactured WARS a bigger gift….he brought the troops home; he got Gadaffi without one drop of American blood spilled.

          • Integrity

            I am not sure whether I am a right wing extremist, but do admit to be guilty of trolling occasionally.

          • plsilverman

            “troll”, “trolling”… the new buzzword assumed to be conceived at the RNC workshop. Is it an extract of The Trolley Song?

      • Drew Page

        What “swing state voter suppression program” are you talking about? Are you saying that Republicans are claiming their votes were suppressed, or are you saying that Democrats are claiming their votes were suppressed in “swing states”? It is a bit difficult to understand that in some districts of “swing states” there were more votes for Obama than there were registered voters in the district.

        • plsilverman

          let’s see: the Voter Suppression program, in states like Florida, as directed b the Tea Party. yes…please look it up. Part and parcel of the extremely phony voter ID laws…which of course affect Obama’s base more than Romney’s. not to generalize but students and the carless poor are a big part of Obama’s voter base. Based upon what scholarly study? there was none…of 35,000 studied (in one case) 7 were found to be fraudulent.

  • Iklwa

    Oh yes, we can spend big bucks tracking American citizens not yet old enough to even considered a life of crime BUT we can’t track the untold numbers of folks who have over stayed their student visas?

    We can’t track illegal aliens convicted of actual crimes?

    We can’t track the Boston bomber but kids are prime targets.

    • plsilverman

      nah, not really. The Obama adm. has a record # of deportations.

  • Wheels55

    Yes, parents should have been told. However, I see nothing wrong with this. Schools only want assigned kids there. And, I would guess that parents would not complain if their child as lost or abducted and this iris scan could be used to identify their child months or years later when found.

    • Brian_Bayless

      Agree 100%.

      • Integrity

        Disagree 100%. You don’t see any issue with Government overreach?

        • veeper

          government overreach…

          one step at a time…

          it confuses the willfully ignorant masses that way….

          • plsilverman

            yeah, that lousy bunch in DC. They overreach right into that 47% for Military recruits to fight in such GOP engineered wars like Iraq.

          • Wheels55

            How did you get to be so smart? Maybe you should clue Obama in on this stuff. If you and Barack had such a candid conversation, maybe the whole Benghazi thing would have ended up differently.

          • plsilverman

            say what? :)

          • Wheels55

            Oh, you don’t know anything either? I guess you work for Obama.

          • Integrity

            I have issues with the Patriot Act as well. I have also noticed that the current administration has used it to their advantage quite frequently as well as many other Bush policies.

      • Moppie

        Then have your own private scan done. Why would you allow your child to become part of a data base you know nothing about without your permission, with the excuse it’s needed for bus ID, yada, yada! What kind of utopia do you think we live in? Let them use iris ID for the criminals and illegal aliens and leave our kids alone! WAKE UP !!! Have your child finger printed at the local Sheriff’s Dept or Police Dept and you keep the only copy. I suppose you’ll be the first in line when they want to microchip your kid too???

        • Brian_Bayless

          Calm down. You sound like a crazy person.

    • Iklwa

      I am thinking you need some air in those wheels or perhaps a brief perusal of the Constitution.
      Each and every time a government claims it is doing something invasive to our liberties for “our own good” it is a violation of our rights.
      We are supposed to be assumed innocent until proven guilty not the other way around.

      • Wheels55

        Parental permission is key here. Personally, I want government out of my life as much as possible. A limited government would not have a need for iris scans on children.
        And, I for one think you are innocent.

    • Drew Page

      Would you think it a good idea that mandatory microchip implants be placed under the skin of all students so they could be tracked like a car with Lo-Jack? This could also aid in the retrieval of lost or abducted children. Maybe this should be mandated by the government for all people, kids and adults. This way, the government would always know where you were in case you got kidnapped. There would be less chance of being kidnapped or the victim of crime if the government mandated curfews for all of us, let’s say starting at 10:00pm (maybe midnight on weekends) where everyone would be required to stay at home. If someone really needed to leave home they could call the local police to ask them for special permission to leave, telling them why you had to leave and when you would be back. Everyone would be a lot safer then, right?

      • Wheels55

        Truthfully, I am not in favor of iris scans or microchips in children without parental permission. I just said that I did not see anything wrong with it if parents agreed.
        I think you went a little off the deep end. You have my permission to stay out as late as you want – even on a school night.

        • Drew Page

          Your comment to which I responded didn’t say “if parents agreed”. You said “Yes, parents should have been told. However, I see nothing wrong with this.”

          Sometimes a little exaggeration is useful to make a point. It seems to me that there are more than a few people willing to give up their rights for security. I am not one of them. This is, as I see it, a slippery slope. Give up some of your rights to feel safer, then a little more, then a little more, until what? The government has no right to know my medical history, my purchasing preferences, my religious affiliation, my sexual preference, who and what I vote for or against, my reading materials, what organizations I contribute to or how much money I have in the bank.

          The government doesn’t pay me, I pay them. It’s against the law for a person to lie to Congress, but not against the law for Congress to lie to the people who pay their salaries. Congress makes laws, but exempts themselves from many of these laws,

  • John Trader

    “The feds are constructing an unprecedented nationwide student tracking system to aggregate massive amounts of personal data — including health-care histories, income information, religious affiliations, voting status and even blood types and homework completion.”

    Exactly what proof do you have of this?

    • Brian_Bayless

      She doesn’t. Malkin throws grenades and walks away. Why Bernie lets her write for his site is beyond me.

      • http://www.m2sys.com/ John Trader

        That’s what I thought. Sensationalism.

      • sheltiemom2007

        Bernie allows people with view points that may differ from his own a chance to speak. Hey, you just got a chance to speak. No one censored you. I find it so ironic that there was a time when Liberals were the staunch supports of free speech and expression. Now the Left are the rigid censors and the Right fights for everyone’s right to speak. It may be the core explanation why I vote Republican now after being a life long Democrat.

        • Brian_Bayless

          What does this have to do with anything I said about Malkin? That’s great that he allows others with different styles to write because the views here are all conservative. With that being said, this style is a terrible read for a site belonging to a credible journalist like Bernie. It does not reflect well.

          • sheltiemom2007

            Wow, are you really so oblivious that you cannot see that YOU were advocating Bernie censor Michelle Malkin’s column because YOU don’t happen to like its content. You wanted her purged from the public discourse for no other reason than your own personal preferences. You are a microcosm of what the Obama Administration has been doing. Thank you for proving my point.

          • Brian_Bayless

            Wow, you are insane. Malkin’s style, of lame name-calling and wild statements are part of whats wrong with journalism today. She appeals to the lowest common denominator. I am questioning why he showcases her on his site. How about someone who can simply write an article without morning zoo-crew DJ style insults?
            I am a microcism of the Obama administration? Good insult, how long did it take you to come up with that one.

          • sheltiemom2007

            Again, your rant proves my point precisely. There is no room in the minds of the Left for people who think differently from them. You can call me names if it helps you in some way. It doesn’t dilute my point. In fact, it makes my point stronger. You never did even bother to inquire what I personally thought of Michelle Malkin’s piece. Interesting that you just drew conclusions because I stated she had a right to her opinion and she had a right to freely speak that opinion. Bernie Goldberg obviously agrees with me. I’m wondering who gets freedom of expression in your little Leftist world and who get’s left out. I don’t have to spend much time thinking about it. I suspect you take Obama’s lead.

          • Brian_Bayless

            I wrote how I dislike Malkin’s articles and what you take away from that is I want people who I disagree with to be censored ? Your point doesn’t even match up to what I wrote. Also, your assumption that I am a “leftist” is far from the truth. What did I write to make me out as a leftist? I guess to you in whatever world you live in, disliking Malkin makes you a leftist. Keep on making assumptions.

          • sheltiemom2007

            You specifically wondered why her column was on this site. As if she had no right to express her opinion on this site. That is censorship. You had your say. She gets hers.

          • Brian_Bayless

            Because of how she writes is why I said this, not because I disagree with her. I’m not advocating for he to be censored. I think she is a terrible, gimmicky writer. Why you can understand this is beyond me.

          • Brian_Bayless

            *her* to be censored.

          • plsilverman

            funny…even O’Reilly banned her from his show. He banned Orly Taitz, too.

          • plsilverman

            little Leftist world….no so little….re-0elected an African American in a country still divided by pro-segregationists. Call names? the RNC has come up with a few, re. Barack Obama. no?

          • plsilverman

            what exactly has the Obama adm. been doing? obstructing freedom of speech? Obama declined on reinstating the Fairness Doctrine.

      • plsilverman

        right on…O’Reilly has barred her from his show…why shouldn’t Bernie reconsider?

    • Integrity

      Next she will be telling us that the IRS targets conservative groups. Oh the madness never ends! It is totally believable given the current occupant of the White House. How about proof that you have ever criticized the current president?

      • plsilverman

        I guess because there has been apparently unethical practices of late in the IRS – although the special investigation thus far has revealed no wrongdoing – we should dismiss Malkin’s own madness. Gee, I wonder if the GOP has ever plotted and planned any obstruction of the Obama adm.?

        • Integrity

          Apparent unethical practices, but no wrongdoing? I hope the GOP has plotted obstruction to the Obama administration. Someone surely needs to. Waiting for the proof. chirp chirp chirp

          • plsilverman

            you hope the GOP plotted obstruction? 450 filibusters? you hope that the GOP continues to obstruct Blue Collar employment and re-employment?

    • plsilverman

      she has zero proof…no GOP has “proof” on of any “scandal”. personally, I love the idea that as many people as possible know my full medical history. but she supposedly believes it’s all (the Fed. gov’ts’ “surveillance” data) a Socialist plot>>>wonder if she goes along with Alex Jones and Coast Host John B. Wells that Obama is coming for our guns to facilitate relocation of anti-Globalists to FEMA camps?