Polk County parents were apoplectic last year when they discovered the school district had been scanning the irises of students’ eyes without parental permission. The controversial practice might soon be banned. On Tuesday, state lawmakers will take up a proposal that would prohibit school districts from collecting biometric information, including the characteristics of fingerprints, hands, eyes, and the voice.
It would affect the Pinellas County school district, which allows schools to scan the palms of students’ hands instead of accepting cash in the cafeteria, and school systems that use fingerprint scanners.
“We’ve been able to get kids through a lunch line for decades,” said state Sen. Dorothy Hukill, a Port Orange Republican who brought the idea to the Florida Senate. “Why do we need to take their biometric information when we know there is the potential for identity theft?” But the idea may meet resistance from local school boards, some of which want the flexibility to create their own policies.
“Biometrics is coming,” said Miami-Dade School Board member Raquel Regalado, who spearheaded an effort to create a local biometrics policy this month. “It exists in the market. It will exist in our schools. It may end up being a viable way to ensure there isn’t fraud.”
Broward school officials said there is no district-wide use of biometrics. The measure being considered by the Florida Legislature is part of a larger bill meant to address concerns over student data security. […]