Student tracking technology in elementary schools
With a beep and a flash of a green light, students at some elementary schools in Illinois are logged into a tracking system. A transportation supervisor sits miles away monitoring each student as he or she gets on and off their buses.
A mishap in 2009 prompted the Palos Heights School District to look into the new technology. A first grade student missed his stop and a 20-minute scramble led to his location. He stayed on his bus as it rolled by his grandmother who stood waiting for him.
About 5% of the half-million school buses that transport kids across the country use student tracking technology. Palos Heights assigned identification cards to students in preschool through 5th grade. Parents are able to call the school and check on the status of their children — if they got on the bus and where the bus is at that moment. The system updates every 30 seconds.
The system provides peace of mind to parents who may, in the future, be able to check on their child through personal technology. What do you think of this tracking system? Is it an invasion of privacy or a needed safety tool for elementary school children? Other tracking devices such as a GPS or Lo-Jack have been challenged in court as unlawful searches under the Fourth Amendment. Most have been determined as constitutional and not a violation of privacy rights.
Update: The U.S. Supreme Court has accepted a case to review in its 2011-2012 term concerning GPS tracking and the Fourth Amendment, reasonable searches and privacy rights. See the background of the case here: http://www.thecrimereport.org/news/inside-criminal-justice/2011-08-big-brother-is-tracking-you-gps-and-the-fourth-amend