Beyond the Surveillance State: Civil Rights Organizations Urge the Department of Education to Protect Students from Police Surveillance in K-12 Schools.

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

A coalition of over 40 civil rights organizations has sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Education expressing their concerns about the use of surveillance technology in K12 schools. The organizations believe that the implementation of this technology can lead to an increased police presence in schools, more contact between students and law enforcement officers, exclusionary discipline, and school pushout, particularly affecting marginalized communities such as Black, Brown and Indigenous youth.

The letter urges the agency to ban federal funds for surveillance technologies and to divest discretionary appropriations from funding police surveillance hardware. It also recommends providing technical guidance to support school districts in conducting audits to ensure compliance with AI and big data technologies. Additionally, the authors suggest studying surveillance tools and other algorithmic technologies in order to understand their potential risks on public schools.

Despite several states, including New York, having taken steps to address the misuse of surveillance technology in public schools by banning facial recognition technology, more action is needed from the Department of Education to protect students, families and educators from its harmful effects. The coalition calls on the agency to take immediate action to end what they describe as a dangerous transformation of America’s public schools.

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