Visitors to public schools in the Valley will be required to show a legal ID to enter schools starting Feb. 13, as the Carbon County School District #2 (CCSD #2) implements a new computerized visitor tracking system.
The system, purchased from Raptor Technologies of Houston, will allow school personnel to scan a driver’s license, state ID or passport and issue a badge to visit the school property. The visitor will only have to scan their ID one time so the software can conduct a near-instant check to see if the visitor is listed on any state sex offender registries. Subsequent visits will not require the person’s ID to be scanned. The system will allow school officials to keep better tabs on who visits the schools and when, as well as who is in a building at any given time.
The system will only be used during normal school hours, according to Larry Uhling, director of curriculum and facilities for CCSD #2. Visitors to sporting events, after school performances or other events regularly attended by the public will not require a person to present ID or submit to the instant background test, Uhling said.
According to Uhling, the system does not check for other criminal records, such as felonies or misdemeanors. The company that sells the system does offer such criminal background checks as a service, but CCSD #2 has not purchased those services, instead opting to check visitors for sex crimes only.
According to a release by CCSD #2, the system uses a person’s name, address and photograph to compare to a nationwide sex offender database. The system only stores a person’s name and whether or not they are a sex offender, the release said. No other information is stored by the system or the district.
In the event a parent or some other individual with legitimate business at the school is found to appear on a sex offender registry, the person will not be categorically banned from being on school property. Instead, school administrators will decide on a case-by-case basis as to how that person’s access to the school will be managed.
One criticism of national sex offender registry laws by civil liberties groups is that in many states, courts have wide latitude in interpreting who should be on a sex offender registry. In many cases, people—including children—have been listed on sex offender registries for minor offenses such as public urination or other outlier offenses that are far removed from the sorts of violent crimes the laws were intended to address.
At any CCSD #2 school, a visitor will only have to show their ID once, Uhling said. On subsequent visits, the person will simply give their name and a badge will be printed that the person wears during their visit. The badge will have a picture, name, date, time and the area of the school the person is visiting. If a parent has children at more than one school, he or she will have to provide ID the first time at every school they visit.
Uhling said the district’s impetus for purchasing the system came from pressure by the state who wants every school in the state to have a visitor management system. Raptor Technologies’ system was on the state-approved list of visitor management systems, Uhling said.
Funds for the software came out of the school facilities pool, which is separate from teacher salaries or other educational funding, Uhling said.
“It should make all parents feel a little bit safer,” Uhling said. “We always have to keep our guard up, this is not something that is a Godsend that will take care of everything, it’s just a little piece that will make our schools more secure.”