We’ve received reports that yesterday, a Belleville school teacher was locked in a bathroom at the High School due to the RFID system malfunctioning. Since school policy is to not allow the use of cell phones, no one knew where she was, or what happened to her until they went looking for her. Luckily, the teacher was carrying her purse, with her phone inside. When her co-workers retrieved their phones to try to call her, they found that she had been frantically trying to call and text people to come help her.
By the way, this is the same RFID system that the Board of Education pushed through as part of their controversial surveillance system, installed and managed by Clarity Technologies Group, at a cost of $2 million.
Even worse, when they actually discovered that she was locked in the bathroom, they could not open the door by swiping with their own RFID cards because the system had malfunctioned. Apparently someone had to come and pry open the door to finally get her out.
It is unthinkable that a system costing the taxpayers 2 million dollars did not even include “panic buttons” on the inside of all rooms, a commonplace emergency measure for releasing an electronic door in the event of a system malfunction. In turn, that panic button should alert the central network to draw attention to either a technical problem, or an abuse of that function.
Not only is this an outrageous, irresponsible oversight, it is potentially putting lives at risk every day that this RFID system is being utilized.
Aside from health concerns over the constant use of radio-frequency technology on children, and the lack of conclusive medical studies, RFID technology is notoriously temperamental.
- What if this had been a child locked in a bathroom late on a Friday afternoon, just before everyone left for the weekend? Just imagine the fear and the trauma that child might endure as a result, not to mention the ensuing lawsuit.
- What if this system locked 30 kids inside their own classroom during a fire?
- What happens to all the doors in the school when a fire knocks out the network, or melts some of the cabling? Does the entire building become a deathtrap for everyone now locked inside?
Any of these scenarios is a possibility, and for the sake of debating the issue, many more can be offered.
The time to ask these questions is now. Not after yet another tragedy has struck, but before one ever happens. It seems to many that there is reason after reason that this $2 million surveillance system could be putting staff, faculty, and your own children in far more danger than it could ever “safeguard” them from.
We intend to get to the bottom of this, and every other gap or issue with this surveillance system. If anyone has any further details of what happened yesterday, or more examples of this system’s failures, please contact us. As always, no names will ever be revealed.
Mr. Joe Longo – since you are the person most directly responsible for the implementation of Clarity’s surveillance system across the school district, it’s time for you to make yourself available to answer some hard questions from the very concerned parents of Belleville.
Update: Some further details came in about this story. A custodian had to come and open the door, but no one is sure how. If he used a key, it was pointed out to me that in the event of an emergency, students don’t have keys, and most teachers don’t carry them around.
Far more alarming is that this is apparently not the first time a teacher has gotten locked in the restroom.
For more in-depth information on Board Trustee Joe Longo’s Clarity surveillance system now deployed in Belleville schools, please see the following article written by NutleyWatch member “PoorRichard”:
Jeff Mattingly has also written an excellent article for The Watch: