e-HallPass, a digital system that students have to use to request to leave their classroom and which takes note of how long they’ve been away, including to visit the bathroom, has spread into at least a thousand schools around the United States.
The system has some resemblance to the sort of worker monitoring carried out by Amazon, which tracks how long its staff go to the toilet for, and is used to penalize workers for “time off task.” It also highlights how automated tools have led to increased surveillance of students in schools, and employees in places of work.
“This product is just the latest in a growing number of student surveillance tools—designed to allow school administrators to monitor and control student behavior at scale, on and off campus,”
increased scrutiny offered by surveillance tools “has been shown to be disproportionately targeted against minorities, recent immigrants, LGBTQ kids,” and other marginalized groups.
Eduspire, the company that makes e-HallPass, told trade publication EdSurge in March that 1,000 schools use the system. Brian Tvenstrup, president of Eduspire, told the outlet that the company’s biggest obstacle to selling the product “is when a school isn’t culturally ready to make these kinds of changes yet.”
Admins can then access data collected through the software, and view a live dashboard showing details on all passes. e-HallPass can also stop meet-ups of certain students and limit the amount of passes going to certain locations, the website adds, explicitly mentioning “vandalism and TikTok challenges.” Many of the schools Motherboard identified appear to use e-HallPass specifically on Chromebooks, according to student user guides and similar documents hosted on the schools’ websites, though it also advertises that it can be used to track students on their personal cell phones.
EdSurge reported that some people had taken to Change.org with a petition to remove the “creepy” system from a specific school. Motherboard found over a dozen similar petitions online, including one regarding Independence High School signed nearly 700 times which appears to have been written by a group of students.
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