Two schools have opted to begin tracking students using GPS devices.
Richmond pre-school in Richmond, California will begin tracking pre-schoolers with GPS tags installed on basketball jerseys. The jerseys will be worn while the kids are in school and will track the kid’s whereabouts during the day. Sung Kim of the county’s employment and human services department suggested that eventually 3,000 man hours of teacher’s labor could be saved from having to track the kids and check them in and out. The system cost $50,000 and was paid for with Federal Grant money. 3,000 hours of labor for tracking pre-schoolers?
In another case outside Chicago, Palos Heights School District 128 is using GPS technology to track not only buses but also is beginning to install GPS trackers on students’ backpacks.  Allegedly some parents feel safer knowing the school has GPS tracking on each kid’s backpack. The district spent $16,000 for the technology. If a child is missing or unaccounted for, the school can look up the location of the bus, and look up the student’s ID and determine the location of each.
Is this legal? Some have suggested that students do not have a reasonable right to location privacy while they are in school “custody.” Perhaps they don’t. But do teachers or school administrators have a right to location privacy while at school? Why not equip teachers with GPS devices along with the kids? Whenever the two are separated by a pre-defined distance, then an alarm can be sent showing that the kids are not under human supervision. And if schools are equipping students with GPS devices, then how about doing it in other workplaces? You could track the location of each person in the building and determine how long they spent in the break room, lunchroom, smoking area, or other.
Using GPS devices to track convicted sex-offenders and other felons makes sense. Tracking product shipments and assets (like buses) makes sense. But GPS tracking of students is a slippery slope.
But how far will this go? Do two make a trend?