Parents of students with disabilities are increasingly notifying school districts of their intent to digitally monitor their children at school. This well-meaning but intrusive technology may be coming to an IEP meeting near you.
The most popular monitoring device, AngelSense, is advertised as a means to ensure child safety and provide parents with peace of mind. AngelSense is a GPS device that allows parents to track their child's location via a smartphone application. The device also permits parents to listen in live to whatever the child hears, and even allows the parent to speak through the device without the child having to pick up a phone.
While AngelSense's GPS function is not overly problematic, and indeed any child with a cell phone is already toting a GPS device around campus, the listen-in feature presents several concerns. That feature implicates student privacy issues. In addition, there is the potential for disruption, through AngelSense's feature allowing a parent to speak into the classroom through the device.
If a child has issues with wandering off and the parent requests the technology, the IEP team should meet to discuss and determine if AngelSense or similar monitoring technology is in fact necessary, or if any alternatives such as additional para-educator support would suffice. If the IEP team concludes that monitoring technology is necessary, the listen-in feature typically can be disabled. AngelSense has been cooperative with assisting in modifying that feature.
Beyond the special education setting, districts should consider reviewing their policies with an eye towards preventing use of listening technologies like AngelSense during the school day. There are few if any legal barriers to use of this technology. Arizona is a one-party consent state with respect to taping conversations if an individual is a party to the conversation.