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    Student tracking technology in elementary schools

    Date: 09.22.10 | by Judge Tom.

    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.

    Misery Linger (Flickr)

    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


    Judge Tom

    This post was written by Judge Tom. Judge Tom is the founder and moderator of AsktheJudge.info. He is a retired juvenile judge and spent 23 years on the bench. He has written several books for lawyers and judges as well as teens and parents including the recently published 'Teen Cyberbullying Investigated' (Free Spirit Publishing). When he's not answering teens' questions, Judge Tom can be found hiking, traveling and reading.

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    1 Comment subscribe to these comments.

    • Courtney
      Thu, 29 Dec 2011 at 12:16

      As a parent,if I were entrusting my child to a school bus driver, I would certainly appreciate this system. And if I worked for a school district, I woudl certainly want to be accountable for the children in the care of myself and my peers. I hope that officials would use my cell phone number to track me down if I came up missing…and since I have nothing to hide, I don’t care if they want to see what I am doing now. My daily, predictable routine isn’t what they are interested in. If we use technology to improve our productivity, it’s more than reasonable, expected and desired – to use it to protect my and my child’s safety.
      Thank you, Courtney, for your comments & insight. Enjoy the New year.