Plans for the testing of Lockport City School District's new facial and object recognition system have changed again.
Superintendent Michelle Bradley announced late Friday that the district will now conduct an audit of the security cameras attached to the system next week in order to "adjust camera angles and focus so that the camera images are optimized to the extent possible." She said the process is expected to take at least two weeks. In addition, she said, in the coming week, the system database will be "supplemented with additional weapons images to maximize the identification capabilities of the system in that regard." Bradley said the system’s hardware and software will also be checked to ensure system connectivity.
The district initially announced plans last week to begin testing the system Monday in anticipation of fully implementing it. The announcement was met with opposition from the New York State Department of Education which, through a series of statements, indicated that officials with the state were recommending the district delay testing and implementation until there is a more comprehensive set of guidelines for protecting student data for "all" districts statewide, Lockport included.
On Friday, the state education department issued a statement indicating that officials in the Lockport district agreed to delay use of the software tied to the system. State education officials are also planning to visit Lockport to learn more about the the system.
“The district has assured us no facial recognition software will be used next week while it tests other components of the system,” a spokesman for the state education department said.
In her late Friday statement, Bradley acknowledged that there would be no testing of the facial or object recognition capabilities of the system for at least the next two or more weeks.
"Of course, during this period — as well as during the remainder of the Initial Implementation Phase through Aug. 31, 2019 — the system will not be used for purposes of recognition of students and will not generate or maintain any student data," Bradley said. "In furtherance of the collegial dialogue with NYSED that we have been engaging in on this matter, the district commits that it will continue to do so. In addition, the district welcomes any NYSED representatives to schedule a site visit at the district so that the district can demonstrate the actual operation of the system."