Preparedness

Facial Recognition Increasing in Schools

Officials from local districts want to ensure residents they are doing everything possible to keep everyone safe, including enhancing their security measures.

by Ashley Rose, Cleburne Times-Review, Texas / August 1, 2018

With school shootings and other types of violence on campuses becoming commonplace, many districts have taken steps to ensure their students, teachers and staff are safe.

Officials from local districts want to ensure residents they are doing everything possible to keep everyone safe, including enhancing their security measures.

A school district in Lockport, New York, is implementing facial recognition technology into their surveillance system that will check each visitor's face against a database of expelled students, sex offenders and others.

The idea behind the Lockport system is to enable security officers to quickly respond to the appearance of expelled students, disgruntled employees, sex offenders or certain weapons the system is programmed to detect. Only students seen as threats will be loaded into the database. Officials said it is the first school district in the country to adopt the Canadian-made system it is installing.

Cleburne ISD Community Relations Director Lisa Magers said the district, like other public school districts across the state and nation, is continuing to review and revise procedures and best practices as safety for their students and schools remains a top priority.

"As we prepare for the start to a new school year, we are in the process of review at this time," Magers said.

Godley ISD Technology Director Marty Oliver said the framing of facial recognition is key to its successful adoption.

"The best schools and administrators have always relied on facial recognition, but they themselves were the processor," Oliver said. "A goal of every principal should be the ability to recognize all of their students by sight, and most teachers know not just their own students, but also many of the other students within their school. This technology should be considered an enhancement of that process. It's a means of supplementing one of the key roles of campus administrators and accelerating their response time to a potential problem."

They are currently in the process of upgrading their security technologies, he said.

"Facial recognition is one of the tools we hope to employ as the technology becomes more accessible," he said. "Again, our primary focus is to provide a better education for our students and that entails creating a safe learning environment.

"In closing, I'm aware of the concerns regarding a loss of privacy, etc., but there shouldn't be an assumption of privacy in a public space. If there are any assumptions to be made, it's that we are tireless in our efforts to provide a safe learning environment within our schools."

They do want to know who is on their campuses at all times, he said.

"We want to make certain that they should be there, and we want to be able to quickly respond to any situation involving someone who isn't welcome," he said.

Venus ISD Superintendent James Hopper said if all school district officials and trustees agree that using this technology would be beneficial, that district should implement it.

"I tend to think that common sense and being proactive rather than reactive when it comes to school safety and video surveillance is much more effective when it comes to 'thwarting bad guys,'" Hopper said. "Each employee must be vigilant and committed to knowing students and staff. Anyone one who is not a faculty member or student of a district should be held to stringent rules concerning access to buildings, including board members. They should set the example for the rest of the community."

They are now implementing a new video surveillance system, he said, consisting of our 200 internet protocol based cameras across the district.

"The district has implemented some stringent policies and procedures when it comes to safety," he said. "We will continue to monitor this new video surveillance system and re-evaluate as we progress to determine if facial recognition capabilities are necessary and/or effective for our district."

Burleson ISD Chief Technology Officer and Security Coordinator Stephen Logan said there are no plans to use facial recognition surveillance systems.


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©2018 Cleburne Times-Review (Cleburne, Texas)

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