Parents in Polk County, Florida are outraged after discovering that their children’s irises were scanned at school without their consent.
According to NBC affiliate WFLA, the iris scans were meant to provide an extra layer of security for students on 17 school buses at three Polk County schools: Bethune Academy, Daniel Jenkins Academy, and the Davenport School of the Arts.
Apparently it would notify parents over text message or email when their children got off the bus.
“We were simply trying to provide some type of technology that students were getting on and off at the right stops and parents were getting notified,” Rob Davis, senior director of support services for Polk County Schools, said.
A private company, Stanley Security Solutions, was hired to implement the program.
Conservative commentator Michelle Malkin spoke with Davis, who claimed the school system did have letters it was planning to send to parents allowing them to opt out, but a secretary had a “medical emergency.”
“It is a mistake on our part” that the letters didn’t go out until after the scans were taken, he said, adding that the private company says it has destroyed the information.
But parents are far from mollified.
“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,” one mother wrote on Facebook.
“I don’t know who has access to this information,” Connie Turlington, the parent of an 11-year-old at one of the schools, added. “My question is – how is it deleted and how can we be assured as parents that it’s gone? I’m waiting on an answer to see how this is going to pan out as far as my child’s personal information floating out there somewhere.”
At this point, the program has been suspended. Davis says they can “hash out” all the details when it’s reinstated.
Here’s more on the story, via WFLA-TV: