Sneaking Student Eye Scans

Back to September 2013 Ed Reporter

Sneaking Student Eye Scans

Eye scansParents in Polk County, Florida schools are outraged because students’ eyes were scanned to track bus riding without parental permission or knowledge. The Polk County Schools interim superintendent didn’t learn about the program until eye scanning was underway. Biometric information gained from iris scanning is as individual as fingerprints.

A contract approving iris scanning was supposed to be signed by the superintendent before scanning began. Parents would then be notified about the scanning and told to contact the school principal if they did not want their children to participate.

Stanley Convergent Security Solutions technicians showed up prematurely at schools and 750 students’ eyes were scanned, without a signed contract or any parental approval. The company and school district officials told furious parents that the scans would be destroyed. “Some parents, however, aren’t appeased. They cite an Internet age maxim: Nothing can be deleted completely.” (, 6-14-13)

The purpose of the scanning program was to enable the district to track student bus riding. Some feel iris scanning was an extreme reaction to tracking when students get on and off the bus.

“As a result of the parents’ opposition to the pilot program [the district transportation and security administrator] said the district is no longer considering using biometric devices on school buses.” (, 6-17-13)

In 2009 the Polk County School District attempted to implement a fingerprint scanner system to track students getting on and off buses. The system was never enacted. Then a transmitter-card tracking system was implemented, but it was ultimately unsuccessful because students frequently lost their identifying cards.