A Call to Action: Civil Rights Organizations Urge Ban on Surveillance Technology in K12 Schools

Is it acceptable for schools to receive funding for surveillance technology?

A group of more than 40 civil rights organizations has penned a letter to the U.S. Department of Education expressing their concerns about the use of surveillance technology in K12 schools. The coalition believes that the use of this technology can have detrimental effects, including increased police presence in schools, greater police contact with students, exclusionary discipline and school pushout, especially affecting marginalized communities such as Black, Brown and Indigenous youth.

The letter recommends a ban on the use of federal funds for surveillance technologies and urges the agency to divest discretionary appropriations from funding police surveillance hardware. Additionally, the authors call for technical guidance to support school districts in conducting audits to ensure compliance with AI and big data technologies’ legal requirements. They also suggest that the Department of Education conducts research on surveillance tools and other algorithmic technologies to understand their risks to public schools.

Several states, including New York, have already taken measures to address the misuse of surveillance technology in public schools by banning facial recognition technology. However, the authors argue that more action is needed to protect students, families and educators from its harmful effects. They urge the Department of Education to take immediate action to end what they see as a dangerous transformation of America’s public schools.

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