Parents Concerned Over Stroudsburg School Tracking Students

The Stroudsburg Area School District has got a new security tool called SmartPass. Soon they will be using student tracking service, but is it protecting them or invading their privacy? The latter leaving parents concerned.

Stroudsburg High School’s traditional method of students having to raise their hands, disturbing the class, and signing out on a sheet, is being replaced by a new service, SmartPass, according to Jeffrey Sodl, Stroudsburg High School Principal.

We’re not really doing anything different than we ever did, other than making it more efficient by taking away paper and making it digital,” said Sodl.

That’s really the only change and that we’re actually giving kids more opportunities to go to the bathroom than they previously had the past 15 years.

A local parent of Stroudsburg Area School, who chooses to remain anonymous for personal reasons, is concerned teachers, staff, or even a hacker can use this information to target a student, possibly putting them at risk for sexual and non-sexual assault and bullying. We interviewed the parent to hear their thoughts on the new Smart Pass system.

While the notion from the school is good, trying to minimize inappropriate behaviors in the hall and protecting people from fights, I feel if someone takes this information or ends up in the wrong hands, they could target a student. Whether it’s staff, another student, or a hacker that doesn’t even have a child at the school, I’m worried this SmartPass thing could open up a can of worms,” said a Stroudsburg Area School District parent.

The current method has students receive a cardstock pass 60 blocks, which is the number of opportunities to use the bathroom, go to their locker, refresh themselves with a drink, see the nurse, and other reasons. SmartPass, the new digital pass system coming to the school, allows the use of the pass twice daily, according to Sodl.

We’ve never had an issue or complaint with the number of times someone needs to use the pass,” said Sodl.”

Kids usually go to the bathroom when they are going from class to class, or at lunchtime or at phys-ed. There is never a time when a kid is denied to use the bathroom or an emergency.”

Sodl said the motivator for SmartPass is for children’s safety, giving the school a tool to monitor for things like bullying. The school will be able to monitor students that are having conflicts and maybe make requests at the same time or to use the same bathroom locations.

Another example, say we know there’s a riff between five students, we wouldn’t want all these same students in the halls at the same time,” said Superintendent Cosmas Curry.

We can set up checks to monitor and alert when they are all in the hall at the same time. This can help alleviate the potential for issues. Security, efficiency, and a seamless process.

This Smart Pass System lets the school control how many students are allowed out in the halls at once. An example of this is they can set the number of kids to 10 allowed out in the hall at any moment, and when an 11th kid enters unrequested, teachers are able to see that. The teacher will have to wait for one of the kids to return to approve another student to leave the class

As an example, if we set the number of kids to 10 in the halls at any given time, if an 11th kid enters a request, teachers can see that and wait to approve until one of the ten scans back in,” Sodl said.

According to Sodl, the new system may show a correlation, if one exists, between a student failing or struggling with a class and constant requests to leave during that particular class. The school will be able to monitor students experiencing conflicts and see which are using the bathrooms at the same time and location.

I know the kids won’t have a problem with it,” Sodl said. “It’s quicker for them, and they don’t have to worry about losing their cardstock pass and replacing it. It’s a quick and seamless process for the students and teachers.

Chromebooks that students receive will already have this SmartPass system installed, allowing quick and seamless access on their first day of school. According to Sodl, the teachers receive training, and students will watch a short instructional video during their homeroom period to learn how to use the system.

There will be a learning curve, but we will all work through it together.” He said. “I think it’s going to be a good thing,

“I think it will solve a lot of problems, and it will put a lot of parents’ minds at ease in allowing us to monitor the halls, manage the building, and making everyone safer. That is our number one priority.”

According to Sodl, the SmartPass system can increase student accountability and safety For Example: When a student selects the restroom they will be using, they will have to choose the one closest to their class, possibly reducing inappropriate activities such as vaping and group gatherings.

Another use of the digital pass allows teachers to monitor and see all active hall passes, including information on where students are coming and heading to, and report students who travel without a pass.

How Does Smart Pass Help Schools?

According to SmartPass, the system will be able to:

  • Increase academic learning time for students by deterring excessive silence.
  • In an emergency such as a lockdown, SmartPass allows students in transit to report their new location if they join another teacher’s classroom to find safety.
  • Helps administrators and first responders with a dashboard to display key metrics and analytics for enhanced school situational awareness.