A fingerprint scan may soon be used in one valley district to keep track of students on school buses.
If the Desert Sands Unified School District board gives its OK at a meeting tonight, the district will become a test site for the Biometric Observation Security System, which would be installed on a few school buses as early as next month.
Students participating in the test would swipe a finger across a scanner on the bus every time they board and exit.
An alarm would trigger if a student tried to get on or off at the wrong stop.
“It's definitely a wonderful safety component,” Superintendent Sharon McGehee said.
In 2007, three first-graders from Desert Sands were mistakenly dropped off at the wrong location early in the school year and rescued by neighbors.
“It was very traumatizing,” Margaret Gomez said Monday. Her daughter, Annelise, then 6, was dropped about a mile from her La Quinta home. “Annelise didn't want to ride a bus after that,” she said.
“Anything is better than what they have in place now, which is letting kids get off at the wrong stop,” she said.
The system would be installed and tested at no cost to the school district during the pilot period, said John DeVries, president of Global Biometrics Security Inc., which is developing the system.
“This will be the first system in the world that works like this,” DeVries said.
A student's actual fingerprint would not be stored, DeVries said. It would be converted into a series of numbers that cannot be used to re-create the print, he said.
The district has not committed to using the system on a larger scale after the test, McGehee said. They're waiting on results from the test and to see how much it would cost.
“At this point in time, I don't know that we can commit any funds to it,” McGehee said.
The cost of the program was a concern for Washington Charter Elementary school parent Carrie Wysard.
“We've had to let go of so many teachers and so many programs,” she said. “I don't see why they have to waste the money on that when they could get all that information on emergency cards...”