Caribou High School is likely to become the first school in Maine to use fingerprint software to track student attendance under a plan that has drawn criticism over privacy concerns from the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine.

The decision by Regional School Unit 39 to use a private company to collect and store students’ biometric data in a public school setting raises serious issues, the ACLU of Maine says.

On Tuesday, the civil liberties organization publicly challenged the school district in a statement to media outlets stating that it has filed a public records request seeking more information about the district’s decision to hire identiMetrics – a firm based in Jenkintown, Pennsylvania – to track student attendance and tardiness by having students place their fingers on a biometric scanner. Caribou High School enrolls about 460 students in grades 9-12.

In its public records request, the ACLU seeks all contract information and communications between RSU 39 and identiMetrics.

“Privacy is not about secrecy. It’s about deciding what you share and when,” ACLU Legal Director Carol Garvan said in a statement. “Maine’s people have a clear interest in protecting their most sensitive information from Big Tech. Collecting students’ fingerprints at a public high school is of serious concern to the public.

“The Caribou community deserves answers, and the rest of Maine should take note so we can proactively foster transparency and enact sensible guardrails to protect our children’s privacy in all schools.”


Samuel Crankshaw, spokesperson for the ACLU of Maine, said his organization was not aware of any other K-12 public school district in Maine that utilizes a biometric tracking system.

Crankshaw cited an October 2023 ACLU research report that asserts that the surveillance industry in America is whipping up fear around school shootings, bullying and suicides in order to drive up demand for their products.

The research report found that 10% of students aged 14-18 who were surveyed said their school uses fingerprint scanners as a primary surveillance tool. Roughly 49% of students said districts use monitoring software to surveil their internet searches on school-issued devices, while 19% of students said their schools use facial recognition cameras.

On its website, identiMetrics states that its biometric platform can be used to log attendance, charge school lunch, check out library media, track staff time, as well as manage school events such as dances, sporting events and student elections.

The decision to hire identiMetrics Inc. became public last month, when Caribou High School Principal Jamie Selfridge notified parents and guardians in a letter dated Jan. 24, 2024. Attendance and tardiness records will be entered from the fingerprint system into PowerSchool, the district’s student management system, Selfridge said.

In her letter, Selfridge said the new student tracking system, would take effect in the next trimester – presumably March through June 2024.


Selfridge said the new tracking system will prove to be more accurate and less time consuming than tracking a student’s attendance manually, will streamline the attendance process and allow teachers to spend more time educating students rather than keeping tabs on missing students, and will significantly enhance school security measures by ensuring that a student’s entry and exits from the high school are accurately  recorded.


But the principal also acknowledged that the introduction of a new tracking system might concern some parents.

“Please be assured that the new software adheres to strict privacy guidelines, and it will only be used for attendance purposes within our school environment,” Selfridge wrote in her message. “We understand that the introduction of any new technology can produce skepticism or concerns.”

“Thank you for your cooperation and support in helping us implement this innovative solution. We firmly believe that the software will contribute to improving our schools’ operations and ultimately enhance the educational experience for your child,” Selfridge said.

Selfridge and RSU 39 Superintendent Jane McCall were contacted by email on Tuesday and asked if parents will have the option of opting out of the fingerprinting system, if there were going to be safeguards in place to protect student data from a privacy breach, and if there were guarantees against having a student’s personal information sold to advertisers.

Selfridge and McCall did not respond to the Press Herald’s request. Attempts to reach the chairperson of RSU 39’s board of directors also was unsuccessful.


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