As we mark the 5th anniversary of Sandy Hook, it’s a critical time to examine how schools have evolved in implementing security upgrades. Parents often wonder if their school is doing everything it can to keep their children safe. The school office can often feel like Grand Central Station at times, with a revolving door of kids, parents, vendors and volunteers coming and going on a regular basis.
There are many signs parents can look for to make sure their school is implementing quality safety standards when it comes to visitors on campus. Some examples include:
- Access to a school should be limited to a single point of entry where the main office has both visibility and control of all visitors entering the school.
- As opposed to handwritten sign-in sheets where names can easily be fabricated, schools should at a minimum require a valid form of ID that includes a photograph to verify a person’s identity.
- Once a person’s identity is verified, the ID should be scanned into visitor management software that conducts an instant and automatic screening against an up-to-date national sex offender registry and checks for any court-ordered custody restrictions.
- Each visitor should be issued a badge that includes the visitor’s photo, the date and time, and authorized destination.
- If an issue arises, front desk personnel should have access to a discreet method for alerting security personnel immediately.
There are ways for districts and individual schools to upgrade security measures by ensuring that everyone entering our schools are properly vetted. For instance, Raptor Technologies visitor management system allows administration staff to scan IDs for an instant and automatic screening against an up-to-date national sex offender registry and checks for any court-ordered custody restrictions as well. More than 19,000 schools use the system, and the system has flagged more than 50,000 sex offenders trying to enter its schools.
There are over 750,000 registered sex offenders in the United States, and for the majority of U.S. schools— it’s very easy for anyone to walk in the school doors and interact with students without any verification of their identity or screening for sex offense history.
It is time that we, as an education community, become more involved with school security issues. Knowing there are resources available is a first step; the second is implementation. By doing so, parents and guardians can have peace of mind, knowing their school is indeed doing everything it can to keep their children safe.
Jim Vesterman, CEO, Raptor Technologies