Conservative blogger Michelle Malkin confirmed Wednesday that three Florida schools conducted iris scans on students without parental consent.
Malkin, an outspoken critic of the federalized academic program “Common Core,” reported three Polk County schools conducted the scans before the Memorial Day holiday, but parents were never informed.
Malkin spoke Wednesday to Rob Davis, senior director of support services for the Polk County School District, who told her a notification letter for parents never went out on May 17 because a “secretary had a medical emergency” that day.
According to Malkin:
Instead of verifying that parents received the letter and ensuring that any families who wanted to opt out had a chance to so, the schools allowed officials from Stanley Convergent Security Solutions to take iris scans of an unknown number of students as part of a “pilot” security program for students who take the bus to the three above-named schools.
Davis told me those unauthorized scans took place on May 22 and May 23 last week, right before the Memorial Day holiday weekend. Schools were notified that Stanley was coming. But not parents.
Davis told Malkin all the data has been destroyed.
The news of this unprecedented invasion of students’ privacy came from a Polk County parent who shared her story on the Facebook page, “Floridians Against Common Core Education,” Malkin said.
The concerned mother wrote:
I have been in touch with the principal at my son’s school this morning regarding the iris scans. She verified everything my son told me, she says the scans were completed on May 22. She said that she was following instructions from the Polk County School Board (PCSB), and that she knew very little, if anything, about this before it occurred, she just did as she was told. She gave me the name and number for her two contacts at the PCSB whom she said were pulling these strings on this “security pilot program”.
By the time we were able to make a phone call to PCSB (a time span of about 1 hour), the secretary told us that this pilot program had been suspended. When we did get a return call from one contact, she reiterated that the program has been suspended, like this should appease us. My husband continued to ask where our son’s private scans were, and she said the company was instructed to destroy the information. When we asked how do we know this has happened, there was no answer.
It is interesting that this letter went home on Friday afternoon at 3pm. Like I told you originally, everyone was gone by 4pm when I tried to make calls. So when exactly did this program get suspended? As of Friday afternoon, it was still in effect. Are they trying to say that somehow it was suspended by Tuesday morning (Monday being a holiday)? It seems like they are mostly focused on this program, like the program was the problem. It’s not, 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.
“This is of a piece with the threat that the federalized Common Core student databases pose to students and families,” Malkin concluded.