NEW ROCHELLE, NY — Attorneys for the City School District of New Rochelle and the New York State United Teachers union are investigating allegations that parents are sending their children to school equipped with concealed listening devices that can broadcast audio so parents can listen in on classroom discussions.
After two years of COVID-related school shutdowns and virtual learning, many parents across the country have become accustomed to listening to what goes on in their child’s classroom. Some have been unhappy with what they have heard.
One Tennessee school district sought to ban parents from listening in to virtual learning classes then relented somewhat, requiring parents to obtain a waiver from each teacher.
“It’s ridiculous,” Laurie Cardoza-Moore, founder of Proclaiming Justice to the Nations. “What are they trying to hide? What is the problem?”
Teachers do not want to be subject remote audio surveillance.
Parents in New Rochelle have yet to weigh in on what is only being made public in this article but, speaking off the record, a number of school officials expect the school PTAs to condemn classroom surveillance by some parents.
New Rochelle Federation of United School Employees President Mary Claire Breslin told FUSE members last night in an email that some children are coming to school equipped with listening devices easily concealed in fanny packs and backpacks.
The devices do not record conversations but can transmit live broadcast feeds outside the school building, she said.
The exact types of devices used to eavesdrop on New Rochelle classrooms has not been disclosed.
For years, the shoe has been on the other foot, The Electronic Frontier Foundation has warned about the dramatic rise in the use of technology in and out of classrooms which it sees as a double-edge sword:
Students and their families are backed into a corner. As students across the United States are handed school-issued laptops and signed up for educational cloud services, the way the educational system treats the privacy of students is undergoing profound changes—often without their parents’ notice or consent, and usually without a real choice to opt out of privacy-invading technology.
EFF offers a number of steps parents can take to protect the privacy of their children.
Matthew Lynch, wrote an article, Are School-Issued Devices Spying On Your Children?, for The Edvocate an online magazine that advocates for education equity, reform, and innovation.
Lynch tells parents to be wary of all the free technology given to students.
For students and parents, live broadcasting from a classroom may violate federal laws like the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA)
“The City School District of New Rochelle is consulting with their legal counsel on the District’s ability to regulate this,” said Breslin. “FUSE is in consultation with both NYSUT legal and our private counsel about our rights and recourse.
This content was originally published here.