The Dangers of Surveillance in K-12 Schools: Civil Rights Groups Urge Ban on Federal Funds and Immediate Action from Department of Education

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

A coalition of over 40 civil rights organizations has penned a letter to the U.S. Department of Education expressing concern over the use of surveillance technology in K12 schools. The letter highlights that the implementation of such technology can result in an increased police presence in schools, greater contact between students and law enforcement, exclusionary discipline, and school pushout, particularly affecting marginalized communities like Black, Brown, and Indigenous youth.

The letter calls for a ban on federal funds being used for surveillance technologies and urges the agency to divest from discretionary appropriations that fund police surveillance hardware. Additionally, it recommends providing technical guidance to support school districts in conducting audits to ensure compliance with AI and big data technologies. Furthermore, the letter suggests studying surveillance tools and other algorithmic technologies to understand their risks to public schools.

While several states have taken steps to address the misuse of surveillance technology in public schools, such as banning facial recognition technology in New York, the authors argue that more action is required to protect students, families, and educators from its harmful effects. They urge the Department of Education to take immediate action to put an end to the dangerous transformation of America’s public schools.

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