Tracking Students With Computer Chips

By Mark Walsh — January 08, 2008 1 min read
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The Associated Press is reporting that a company and a school district’s test of putting electronic-tracking chips in students’ backpacks is raising the hackles of the American Civil Liberties Union.

According to the AP, the pilot test in the Middletown, R.I., district would put the so-called radio frequency identification (RFID) chips in or on the backpacks of some 80 students, as well as a global positioning system device on their schoolbuses. The main goal appears to be to track whether students are on the bus when they should be.

The head of the Rhode Island chapter of the ACLU tells the AP it is one thing for the school district to track its buses, but quite another to track children. It has sent a letter to the district objecting to the pilot test as an “intrusion on students’ privacy” that could actually make them less safe, because the data on RFID chips can be intercepted.

The district’s superintendent tells the AP that the tracking system would be no different than systems that allow parents to see what their children had for lunch or their attendance records.

In 2005, Education Week reported on school districts’ growing use of technology to track students, from bus systems to student ID badges that contain electronic chips.

A version of this news article first appeared in The School Law Blog.