(TNS) — Lockport City School District Superintendent Michelle Bradley said this week that the district does not currently have a date for implementation of its new Aegis facial recognition system.
The district is using $1.4 million of its allocated $4.2 million SmartSchools Bond Act funding to implement a new security camera system equipped with Aegis facial recognition software, which has been purchased from Ontario-based SNTech.
On Monday, Bradley said district officials are still discussing privacy matters with the state education department. She said the district anticipates that the state Board of Regents will be discussing a section of New York education law that deals with the release of personally identifiable information at its next meeting. The board is scheduled to meet on Jan. 14.
“It seems to make sense to see what comes out of the discussion that the Board of Regents has related to privacy matters (and how it may relate to the use of the Aegis system),” Bradley said in an emailed response to questions from the US&J.
A New York State Department of Education official confirmed that the agenda for the Jan. 14 meeting has not been finalized.
Bradley later said, in a phone interview, that NYSED Chief Privacy Officer Temitope Akinyemi told her the state Board of Regents plans to discuss the law at its meeting.
The New York Civil Liberties Union has asked both NYSED and the New York State Legislature to halt the district’s surveillance project.
When asked whether anyone from NYCLU had reached out to the Board of Regents, spokesperson Naomi Dunn said NYCLU is a member of the Data Privacy Advisory Council, which was formed by Akinyemi, and it has been involved in giving input on the formulation of new regulations for the education law section that deals with privacy.
In December, the school board adopted a policy to specifically deal with the Aegis software.
Previously, Director of Technology Robert LiPuma said the policy, titled “Operation and Use of Security System/Privacy Protections,” will govern two important additions to the district’s security operation, the Raptor ID system and the Aegis facial recognition system. The Raptor ID system is more of a demographic matching system that checks someone if they are in the national sex offender database, whereas Aegis will look at faces to make sure they are not on the district’s “unwanted person” list.