The computerized security proposal to conduct instant background checks on school visitors was heavily criticized at a forum Wednesday night aided by an opinion from David McGuire, staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut.
From Linda Conner Lambeck, CT Post
A security system that would photograph and do instant sex offender checks on everyone who enters a city school was unanimously panned Wednesday at a school board community forum attended by more than 100 people.
Speakers called it “Big Brother,” suggested it would lead to parent profiling and in the end, not protect their children.
Funding to pilot the system was included in a state school security grant that was applied for shortly after the mass shooting at Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown that took the lives of 20 first graders and six adults.
Full story here.
From the American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut
Schools need to protect children but they also need to be aware of the real potential for misuse of technologies like this, particularly when electronic background checks rely on unconfirmed, incomplete or inaccurate information. We’ll be very concerned if parents are blocked from seeing their children in a school event or denied access to a parent-teacher conference only because, for example, they or someone with a similar name had a minor legal scrape in the past or appeared on an unverified list of people merely suspected of gang affiliation. Parents and the rest of the community have a right to know exactly what criteria will be used to exclude visitors, what the process will be for redress, how data about visitors is being stored and who has access to it.
Some additional concerns:
• What kind of identification would the schools accept? More than 21 percent of the households in Bridgeport have no access to a vehicle, according to the Census Bureau, which means those residents have no reason to hold a driver’s license. If they have no other form of government-issued photo identification (say a passport, or military ID) will they be denied entry to schools?
• What kind of watch lists will the schools use? The system allows the schools to add lists of people who are only suspected of wrongdoing, for example a police department’s list of suspected gang members. And schools can apply their own internal lists. People should not be banned from public places on the basis of unverified and potentially inaccurate information.
• How may people appeal a decision to bar them from the schools? It’s difficult to imagine how the schools can quickly and fairly adjudicate cases of mistaken identity or claims of unreasonable bans.