Parents outraged over palm scanning devices in Puyallup, Washington lunchrooms

11/15/13. Parents outraged over palm scanning devices in Puyallup, Washington lunchrooms. David Ham,

Puyallup School District says by the end of the year, every lunchroom will have palm scanning devices that will allow students to pay for their lunch with a wave of a hand.

“Efficiency is another reason for implementing this. The accuracy of the scanner reduces human error, reduces fraud, the ability for students to share numbers allows parents to know the money that they’re spending is being spent on their child’s lunch,” said Brian Fox, spokesperson for Puyallup School District.

The district says the devices will be in all 32 schools by the end of the school year.

So far, Wildwood Elementary and Stahl Junior High have the scanners in their lunchrooms.

Christina Allen has a daughter in middle school and said she was blindsided by a letter that her daughter came home with that said the scanners would be used at Kalles Junior High in a few weeks.

“I have issue with privacy with that. If the school district needs my signature in order to obtain my daughter’s photograph and use that photograph in publication because of a privacy issue, then I believe I should have to sign an authorization to use my child’s identity and for them to do that,” said Allen.

The scanners work by using infrared technology to look for vein patterns in palms.

“To hear those words ‘vein recognition program’ huge it’s very invasive to me. What is it in my daughter’s veins do they need to photograph or have that information?” said Allen.

But Fox says the school district cannot access the biometric scans.

“It doesn’t take a picture of a finger print or a handprint, it simply connects the activity of the vein to the number system where the account where the parents have already given us their Visa number or MasterCard number and paid for lunches. It’s the same information we already keep like Social Security numbers and phone numbers and addresses, we are charged with keeping confidential,” said Fox.

Students do have the option of opting out of using the scanners, and accessing their accounts by punching in an identification number.

At the two schools that are using the scanners, 12 students have opted out and 1,500 students that have not.

The Puyallup School District spent $38,695 on 71 scanners.

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