Giving Compass' Take:

Some schools are implementing facial recognition software to increase school safety, but privacy experts explain why these safety measures aren't ideal tools. 

• Experts say that facial recognition software needs to be maintained and updated meticulously to work accurately. Do schools have the funding for the devices as well as the maintenance that comes with them? 

• Read about why school safety depends on emotional health. 

In a quiet, residential neighborhood in Seattle, situated within the red-brick walls of a Catholic church, is a small, long-running pre-K-8 school called St. Therese Catholic Academy.

St. Therese is not unlike a lot of other schools in the U.S. It has a basketball team, a science lab and a dedicated time for recess. And, increasingly, as one tragic school event follows another in the news, it’s experimenting with a new approach to safety. The spate of school shootings has rattled the most idyllic communities and spurred school leaders to take extra measures—and spend extra money—to deter similar tragedies at home.

After last year’s school shootings in Parkland, Fla., and Santa Fe, Texas, St. Therese overhauled its system, affixing the red-brick exterior of the church with several high-resolution cameras and equipping them with facial recognition software. “So we went from nothing, to state-of-the-art,” says Matt DeBoer, the principal.

Despite questions over its effectiveness at deterring school violence, the new high-tech tool fulfills its purpose in at least one important area of school operations: making staff feel safer.

Take the school’s office manager, who’s been with St. Therese over 30 years and is the first person visitors see when they enter the school. With the facial recognition software in place, ensuring that no unauthorized adults are coming into the building, “she says she’s never felt safer or more comfortable in her job,” DeBoer adds. “It’s that peace of mind. Something is greater than nothing.”

But this technology cannot guarantee that schools will become any safer or more secure, privacy experts tell EdSurge. Facial recognition is most effective in very specific use cases, like a high school that opens its doors to the public for community events and needs to keep certain “known threats,” like a parent with a restraining order or a registered sex offender, out of the building.

Read the full article about facial recognition software for school safety by Emily Tate at EdSurge