Maine’s Caribou High School Decides Against Biometric Attendance System

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Maine’s Caribou High School in the United States has opted not to implement a biometric identification system for monitoring student attendance, as reported by the Portland Press Herald. 


The school entertained the idea of implementing fingerprint scanners from identiMetrics, a Pennsylvania-based attendance tracking company, to streamline processes like attendance tracking, lunch charges, and event management, such as dance and sports. 


The idea, initially conveyed by the school’s principal in a letter, aimed to enhance efficiency but was abandoned a day after criticism from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Maine, which prompted a public records request to examine student data usage. 


The ACLU of Maine expressed concerns regarding the vulnerability of student information and system clarity, emphasizing that such systems may jeopardize sensitive student data if breached by hackers in Maine public schools.


As such, Regional School Unit 39 (RSU39) opted not to proceed with the system’s implementation after thorough consideration and community input, notifying parents and guardians of the decision on February 14. 


Despite only 2% of parents opting out of the finger scanning option, confusion about the system’s purpose contributed to the decision to abandon the plan, addressing concerns about the lack of clarity regarding its objective. 


Additional Information:


  • Though some linked the system to law enforcement fingerprinting, identiMetrics was said to not store actual fingerprints and rather uses data for identification and attendance tracking within the school, aiming to enhance safety practices during emergencies by integrating it with manual attendance records.
  • The school noted that it will continue to investigate alternatives for keeping attendance records.
  • According to identiMetrics, for over two decades, U.S. schools have employed fingerprint biometrics, with over 2 million students in 48 states using them daily to streamline operations, increase teaching time, and improve security. In West Virginia, more than 70% of districts use biometrics to enhance breakfast programs.
  • The ACLU of Maine acts as the state’s guardian of liberty and works specifically within the state to defend and promote civil liberties.
  • RSU39 caters to approximately 460 students in grades 9-12 from Caribou and Stockholm and would have been the first K-12 public school district in Maine to employ fingerprints or other biometrics for student attendance tracking had the plan taken place.
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