In an effort to reduce ID-number theft and speed up the cafeteria line, Erie High School is launching a high-tech biometrics system for identifying students through a scan of their index finger.
But Principal Steve Payne said several parents have called him to say they weren't comfortable with the practice, and one was particularly upset that the school scanned and stored students' biometric information last week without informing parents first.
"That was an oversight on my part," Payne acknowledged. "I apologized."
Instead of keying in a six-digit code in the lunchroom -- as they do now -- students will place their index finger on a reader that will use seven unique data points on the finger to figure out who they are. At the cashier stand, the student's name, photo and account information will pop up on a screen and their account will be debited.
The system doesn't capture fingerprints, Payne said.
The 760-student school plans to start using the new system -- which was rejected by the neighboring Boulder Valley School District over parental concerns -- on Nov. 8.
Payne said the school is now notifying parents of Erie High students about the program via e-mail and phone.
On Thursday, a memo was posted on the school's Web site explaining how the system examines points on a student's finger, generates a unique number for that student, and then uses that number to link the student to his or her account.
Parents have the choice to opt out if they don't want their children to participate, Payne said. Those students can simply give the cashier their name and ID to pay for food.
The finger-scan system is designed to reduce ID-number theft and speed up the cafeteria line. With nearly 400 lunches served in a 40-minute lunch period at Erie High, Payne said, time is of the essence.
"It's truly to their advantage, and it's so easy and quick for them," he said.