Carroll ISD is Outfitting Teachers With GPS Tracking Devices

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San Antonio's Northside ISD, which became the focus of national controversy when an intensely evangelical high school sophomore refused to wear her RFID-equipped student ID because it was the Mark of the Beast, is not the first school district to track students' whereabouts using geolocation technology, nor will it be the last. Despite the inevitable outcry, it's seen as a relatively effective way to boost attendance and, as a result, state funding.

But the rationale for deploying tracking devices in public schools isn't always so crass, particularly in the wake of Sandy Hook. Take Southlake's Carroll ISD which, as CBS 11 reports, is buying 100 wearable tracking devices from a Dallas company, eTrak, as part of a pilot program aimed at improving safety.

The idea is that teachers and others can use the devices -- small black boxes that attach to a lanyard or key chain -- to call for help in an emergency. Here's how the company describes the product:

Slow response time can prolong the emergency. At the press of the eTrak Alert Button, emergency messages are instantly sent to pre-programmed recipients. Teachers can notify the administration office. The school office can notify local law enforcement, all within seconds. The eTrak Panic Alert technology sends emergency messages containing the sender's name and photo, along with their location.

"This device is not going to stop a Sandy Hook from happening," Carroll ISD spokeswoman Julie Thannum said. "But the one thing it will do is when someone pushes the button, we'll be able to tell where they are in that building."

It does more than that, of course. It constantly tracks the user's location using GPS and Wi-Fi signals, whether they're in the classroom or sitting on a toilet. That Carroll ISD is testing the program on adult teachers, not students, makes the endeavor a bit less unsettling, but it's still raises difficult questions about privacy and the relationship between employer and employee. A position paper signed by the ACLU, the Electronic Frontiers Foundation, and more than a dozen other civil liberties groups, worries that using tracking devices in schools violates civil liberties and dehumanizes wearers, pointing out that the same technology is used to track livestock.

Carroll ISD has given no indication that it plans to monitor its employees like cattle, but it's not hard to envision a scenario in which it would be convenient to use the geolocation tracking for something other than an emergency response. The district plans to review the program after a year.

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38 comments
Obummer
Obummer

Yo don’t forgets da cover page on yo' TPS reports.

Angel Rainey
Angel Rainey

Booooooo this is lame and won't protect anyone from anything because it will be used after the fact, it makes no sense.

Michael Sauer
Michael Sauer

they need these on kids, rly. then you could always be sure of which students are there/not there -- esp. in cases of emergencies.

Cliffhanger
Cliffhanger

Can we issue one of these to everyone at 3700 Ross, including the board members, then ship them to Siberia and make sure they never come within 5,000 miles of Dallas again?

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

what a waste of money. carroll isd has way too much discretionary dollars.

an example of how school funding in this state is completely, totally messed up.

Gary Krysztopik
Gary Krysztopik

If the intent is to be an emergency transmitter and not a tracking device, it can be made from open source hardware and software so that the operation is transparent and only as intended.

Mark Unwin
Mark Unwin

what? I got sidetracked on the 'People of Party Cove' slideshow next to the article, girls kissing, licking each other's butts

oakclifftownie
oakclifftownie

I have found that in some cases Tech stuff  might roll out with a lot of high hopes fanfare and of course drama .....

Then ends up boxed up in a broom closet .

Shannon Adolph
Shannon Adolph

Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

How many scared employees will speak up when an employer abuses them?  Companies have tremendous power over your personal liberties and the limitation of them these days of high unemployment. 

Jarod Warren
Jarod Warren

The only argument here is deciding: Which Weighs More? Your personal sense of privacy or the coffin of your 6-year old? Once faced with the glaring hubris of our sense of control and entitlement, the options become rather obvious.

doublecheese
doublecheese

A company creates a device with off the shelf components from China.  The device uses standard technology and communication protocols that they spent no time developing.  The company then shops it around to school districts around the country exploiting a common fear and telling them this is the solution.  They find a sucker.  Ca-CHING!!

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

What if your work sent out a memo that stated they were installing cameras in the restrooms?  Would you dumb doofuses then say, "I'm employed by them and must follow their rules?"  Wake up, people.

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

If parents choose to track their children, that's their business.  But a government institution forcing American citizens to wear these devices is nothing less than a totalitarian atrocity.

azimmiza
azimmiza

@doublecheese  Don't ya just love Capitalism and all this with other people's money 2. That' a prime example of a double tap if I ever saw one.

bmarvel
bmarvel topcommenter

@Myrna.Minkoff-Katz Do you bell you cats in case they get out of the house?

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@Myrna.Minkoff-Katz If my work wants to track me during work hours that is their choice, Im employed by them and must follow their rules.  Hell, access badges arent just for security, they give your company a time stamp every time you enter and leave the building

ruddski
ruddski

No, hon - its not totalitarian, they can always quit the job.

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@ScottsMerkin @alteredjustice ...and regardless of what you think you've done, you can't turn the GPS feature of your cell phone off.  It is always on, in the name of 'safety'.

alteredjustice
alteredjustice

@ScottsMerkin I'd say a GPS device attached to a truck is a little different and less objectionable than the same device being attached to a human.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@Myrna.Minkoff-Katz and then you get arrested or ticketed or fired for it.  tracking an individual that you pay to do work for you so that you make sure you are getting what you paid for is not.  Just about every company truck you see rolling around town has a GPS tracker on it, so the boss can know where the employee is.

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