Lockport Schools Must Suspend $3.8 Million Surveillance Plan and Answer These Questions
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As parents, students, educators and taxpayers in the Lockport School District we are grateful for the district's intentions to improve school security. However, we are calling on the district to suspend its plan to spend $3.8 million on a hi-tech, facial recognition security system in our schools until it provides our community with clear answers to the urgent questions below.
We respectfully call on the district superintendent and the Board of Education to suspend any further implementation of the plan (including solicitation of bids and any contracting) until it holds a special public hearing on that plan at the Board's scheduled March or April meeting and provides public answers to the following questions:
1. Why did the school district decide to invest virtually all of Lockport’s $4.2 million from the Smart Schools Bond Act on facial recognition surveillance instead of on technology education for our students, the primary purpose of those voter-approved funds?
2. On what basis did the district decide to invest $3.8 million on an experimental school facial recognition surveillance system, used almost nowhere else in the U.S., instead of on other, less-expensive and more proven approaches to school security?
3. Does the consultant hired by the district to develop its security plan have any financial connection, as a consultant or otherwise, with any of the companies currently marketing facial recognition security to public schools?
4. In the plan that the district submitted to the state for release of the Smart Schools funds, it explicitly states that it consulted with parents, students, teachers and members of the community in the development of the plan. How specifically did the district consult with each of those groups and what feedback did the district receive from each of those groups about its plans to spend the funds on a facial recognition system?
5. How does the district plan to finance the operation, maintenance, updating and other ongoing costs of the facial recognition system over time and what is its estimate of those costs going forward over the next five years?
We look forward to your prompt response to this request.
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