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A group of more than 40 civil rights organizations have written a letter to the U.S. Department of Education, warning about the dangers of increased surveillance technology in K12 schools. The coalition argues that such measures could lead to a dangerous escalation in the school-to-prison pipeline and the criminalization of marginalized youth, particularly those who are Black, Brown, and Indigenous.

The letter states that the use of surveillance technologies in schools can result in greater police presence, increased police contact with students, exclusionary discipline, and school pushout. The coalition urges the Department of Education to take immediate action by banning the use of federal funds for purchasing surveillance equipment that utilizes artificial intelligence.

To protect marginalized communities from technology-enabled rights abuses, the coalition also provides six recommendations. These include divesting discretionary agency funding from police surveillance hardware, conducting algorithmic impact audits to ensure legal compliance of AI and big data technologies, studying the risks associated with surveillance tools in public schools, and involving youth and young adults in AI data privacy governance.

Despite some progress at a state level on addressing surveillance technology misuse in schools, the coalition emphasizes that there is still much work to be done at a national level. They urge immediate action to prevent America’s public schools from becoming spaces of increased surveillance and potential harm to students.

In conclusion, it is crucial for us to recognize the potential dangers posed by increased surveillance technology in K12 schools and take immediate action to protect marginalized communities from its negative effects. By implementing these recommendations outlined in this letter, we can create a safer learning environment for all students.

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