SUTTER, Calif. (AP) -- The only grade school in this rural town is requiring pupils to wear radio frequency identification badges that can track their every move. Some parents are outraged, fearing it will rob their children of privacy.
The badges introduced at Brittan Elementary School on Jan. 18 rely on the same radio frequency and scanner technology that companies use to track livestock and product inventory.
While similar devices are being tested at several schools in Japan so parents can know when their children arrive and leave, Brittan appears to be the first U.S. school district to embrace such a monitoring system.
Civil libertarians hope to keep it that way.
"If this school doesn't stand up, then other schools might adopt it," Nicole Ozer, a representative of the American Civil Liberties Union, warned school board members at a meeting Tuesday night. "You might be a small community, but you are one of the first communities to use this technology."
The system was imposed, without parental input, by the school as a way to simplify attendance-taking and potentially reduce vandalism and improve safety. Principal Earnie Graham hopes to eventually add bar codes to the existing ID's so that pupils can use them to pay for cafeteria meals and check out library books.
"There is a way to make kids safer without making them feel like a piece of inventory," said Michael Cantrall, one of several angry parents who complained. "Are we trying to bring them up with respect and trust, or tell them that you can't trust anyone, you are always going to be monitored and someone is always going to be watching you?" asked Michael Cantrell, one of several angry parents who complained.