Finger scanners in lunch lines

CALCASIEU PARISH, LA (KPLC) - Some schools in Calcasieu Parish are bringing a new technology to the lunch line.

By installing Touch 'N Go finger scanners in place of lunch cards, the student will be identified with an I.D. number and school photo.

The fingerprints are not collected and according to the Calcasieu Parish Director of Food Services Patricia Hosemann, the purpose is to create a number that links to the student's account that will automatically pay for the lunch, thus making the lunch line move faster.

"We did not have an accurate point of service count," Hosemann said. "It was very debatable whether we fed that actual child that lunch that day, and so now with a finger scan or a card scan it's far more accurate."

The system prevents other students from using another student's lunch card or number to purchase meals. This makes billing more accurate and saves parents time and money.

Schools in Calcasieu Parish that use the finger scan technology consist of DeQuincy Middle School, Iowa High School, Oak Park Middle School and Vinton High School. Moss Bluff Elementary School had planned to install the finger scans in the lunch room, but some parents were upset with the new method because children were finger scanned without parents' knowledge or permission.

"Some of the children have been scanned and we have deleted those finger prints," Hosemann said. "I called the software company this morning, so those [fingerprints] are history."

But part of the problem was parents were upset that letters containing information on the finger scan wasn't sent home. An article containing information about using the scan system was printed in the Moss Bluff monthly newsletter, but no permission slip for parents to agree to or opt out of their child being scanned.

Parents were also worried about the identities of their children when they use the finger scans.

"These images are saved in our database and it sits behind the Calcasieu Parish firewall, so it's very safe," Hosemann said. "The privacy of the child is protected."

Hosemann said in the future letters will go out to the parents with more information on the finger scans.

Moss Bluff Elementary School Principal Charles Caldarera said the finger scan technology that was going to be installed, will not be installed anymore at the school in the future.

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