School officials frequently seek ways to improve school safety, security and crisis preparedness through improved technologies. Two Texas school districts have implemented student identification cards that include radio frequency identification microchips which can be tracked by electronic readers located in various parts of the school building. The Northside Independent School District and Springs School District have both adopted these types of systems which are designed to help them track students for improved security, safety,and accountability for students during a crisis. The systems are also designed to help school officials reduce truancy which can in turn help to reduce the dropout rate and improve test scores.
As with many efforts to enhance school safety through modern technology, there are people and organizations that are critical of these efforts. The complaints in these instances have apparently centered around student privacy and concerns with hacking. School officials have countered that the reading devices only work on campus and that personal information cannot be accessed by hacking the cards. Similar criticisms have been an issue for other technologies such as the use of school security cameras, metal detectors and security X-ray devices in the past.
In the Northside IDS, school officials say the project will cost a little more than a quarter of a million dollars a year but is expected to increase revenues to the district by about $2 million due to improved daily attendance. If these estimates are correct, this appears to be an excellent way to improve student safety while increasing funding for the students. With the added benefits of reducing the risk of victimization to truant students and enhancing graduation rates, this may be a very logical approach.
Media reports we reviewed seem to indicate that most parents approve of the technology and Pascual Gonzalez who is a spokesman for the Northside Independent School District told reporters that only one parent has complained about the new approach. Concerns have been expressed by civil liberties groups including the ACLU and privacy advocates predict that districts utilizing the new technologies will be hit with protests and litigation though this has apparently not taken place in the Spring ISD which implemented similar technology five years ago. I presented for the Spring ISD many years ago and they are one of the most innovative districts I have worked with in their intelligent utilization of school security technology.
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