Florida lawmakers to consider banning biometrics in schools

elyriahighPolk County parents were apoplectic last year when they discovered that the school district had been scanning student irises without parent permission. The controversial practice may soon be banned. On Tuesday, state lawmakers will take up a proposal that would prohibit school districts from collecting biometric information, including the characteristics of an individual’s fingerprints, hands, eyes and voice. It would affect the Pinellas County district, which allows schools to scan student palms instead of accepting cash in the cafeteria, and other school systems using fingerprint scanners. “We’ve been able to get kids through a lunch line for decades,” said state Sen. Dorothy Hukill, a Port Orange Republican who brought the idea to the Florida Senate. “Why do we need to take their biometric information when we know there is the potential for identity theft?” But the idea may meet resistance from local school boards, some of which want the flexibility to create their own policies. “Biometrics is coming,” said Miami-Dade School Board member Raquel Regalado, who spearheaded an effort to create a local biometrics policy. “It exists in the market. It will exist in our schools. It may end up being a viable way to ensure there isn’t fraud.” The measure being considered by the Florida Legislature is part of a larger bill meant to address concerns about student data security. For years, Florida schools have used student achievement information to drive decisions about teaching and learning. The state’s system of data collection and use is considered one of the best in the country. More
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