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Parents Upset Over Lunchtime Palm Scanner

$300,000 system leads to privacy concerns.

Parents of students at Carroll County schools in Baltimore say a new policy that scans kids’ palms to pay for their lunches goes too far.

Photo: Barbara Haddock Taylor/Baltimore Sun/MCT via Getty ImagesWith the PalmSecure system, students hover their hands over an infrared scanner that ID’s them by the unique patterns in their skin and registers a sale, according to a report from the Daily Herald.

The Herald talked to Mike Richmond, who has two children at a Westminster elementary school. He said the scanning started before parents were given the chance to opt out.

"I didn’t appreciate how they handled it. I’m concerned about it. I know it’s the way of the future, but it’s fingerprinting, it’s palm-printing."

The district said the goal is to decrease the time it takes to pay for lunches since the children have a limited amount of time to eat their meals.

The controversial system is operating in three Carroll County elementary schools with plans to expand to the whole district within a year. It’s also used in many other schools around the country where there have also been concerns about invasion of privacy as well as the cost of the system. Once implemented, PalmSecure will run the Carroll County district about $300,000.

Bing: Read more about the story.

Photo: Barbara Haddock Taylor/Baltimore Sun/MCT via Getty Images



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Oct 8, 2012 12:03AM
Another opportunity to learn basic math ruined. Our country slip a little farther down the list of how well educated our children are. The kids can't do the math so just scan them.
Oct 8, 2012 12:02AM

One reason why America's school systems are failing, we are afraid of trying out new things. Why are we so afraid of change? It is a harmless palm scanner, the only problem I can see with it is germ contamination. However, the school should of had an opt out form before the shift to new technology. Send out the form ASAP and delete all records until forms are returned.

Oct 8, 2012 12:02AM
Is this the Revelation predication of the mark of the 666, lets be watchful.  First our precious children later they will come up with a creative reason to place a code in our hands.
Oct 8, 2012 12:02AM
I have worked in the school cafeteria many times as a substitute and a volunteer. Children are given 30 minutes to eat, that's from the time they get on line to  the time the teacher picks up the class.  They get their food, fruit, salad and milk.  If they are able to get a snack they get that at the same time.  Once they get to the end and pay, if they find out they don't have enough money, lunch is returned and they are given the free cheese sandwich with plain milk and fruit.  Please understand this is given after the child has been allowed to charge their lunch for a few days and has not bought money in to pay for the charged lunches and future lunches.  The cafeteria manager will tell the children, give bills to the classroom teacher who puts them in the children folders that go home daily or weekly.  Parents are also given the option of monitoring and/or paying for lunch online.  With notices sent when accounts are low.  I know this is true with my children as well as being in school seeing these things being done.  They don't remember when they get home to say they need money.  With all this a scanner is much easier then putting in their number, that some don't remember as 6 yrs old.  And it's not only 6 years old who forget. All kids want to do is eat and relax for a bit. As they children get older and go to middle school and high school, the stealing comes into play/  They put in some other kid number and get a free lunch.  Even though the student picture will come up, you are being pushed to get the students through the lines, some things slip last you.  Your hand print is your hand print and no one else can use it, or spend your money.  We can not be so naive to believe there aren't students who wouldn't do what I mention or adults who turn a blind eye.  There are several parents who work in the school system just to keep an eye on their child and don't see anything wrong with that.  As long as their kids is the one who's getting.  For those who have never been in the school system to work or volunteer with your children, I hope I've opened your eyes.  Take a trip and eat with your student when you can.  National Lunch wee is October 15-19, go and eat to see how it goes.  Don't forget to go when they aren't expecting you.  Go several times to get the full picture and not just a snapshot.  Once you see how harried the workers are, undermanned as well as underpaid, you will see the reason for a scanner.  It will ease the line and give the children more time to eat and socialize.  Cut down the stealing at the higher grades levels with putting in other students numbers.  A school in an affluent area will fare a lot better then a Title One school. Some Principals don't offer breakfast on a half day which is illegal but allowed since parents don't know and children don't complain.  
Oct 8, 2012 12:00AM

Oh, get over it . Only criminals are paranoid about their prints being in a gov't registry.


Oct 8, 2012 12:00AM
Brian most peple dont get it.They just call you crazy.Glad to see some who do understand.
Oct 7, 2012 11:59PM

I think it's a great way to keep track of lunch charges. No ID tags to loose, no misunderstanding a childs name in a noisy lunchroom...


For three years now we have been getting robo calls from the school trying to collect for lunches our child did not buy!


Their system: "We try to remember the childs name or ask". Both highly unreliable.


We even showed proof that our daughter was absent one day she was charged. Made no difference, they still try to collect.


I'm sure the system is used for more than just lunch charges. Like attendance, knowing where the child is at all times, etc. Ever tried to pick up your child from school and they can't find her? Not a good feeling!

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