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June 28, 2019

LOCKPORT, NY ‒Despite being asked by the New York State Education Department to delay the testing of its facial recognition technology, the Lockport School District may start using the technology when schools reopen in September.

School officials stated that the decision on whether to put images of suspended students in the database would be made next year, despite there being racial disparities in suspension rates throughout the district. In the 2015-2016 school year, 25 percent of students who were suspended were black, despite black students making up just 12 percent of enrollment. 

The following statement is attributable to Stefanie Coyle, education counsel at the New York Civil Liberties Union.

“It’s troubling that the Lockport School District insists on moving forward with implementing intrusive facial recognition technology that often makes mistakes when identifying people of color, women, and young people.

“The district’s indication that it intends to use this technology on suspended students reveals that it cares very little about the privacy and civil liberties of its students. Students of color, who are more likely to receive a suspension, will bear the brunt of this technology and could end up being subject to even more scrutiny. The legislature would be wise to pass the moratorium bill next session to ensure that more districts across the state do not follow in Lockport’s footsteps.”

 

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