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Burrell School District to screen for sex offenders

| Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014, 1:06 a.m.

Adult visitors to Burrell School District should have their drivers licenses handy this school year.

Superintendent Shannon Wagner said the Raptor Technologies visitor-management system will be in operation at all school offices when classes begin on Monday.

For any visitors intending to go beyond the office and interact with students, staff will swipe their drivers licenses through the system to check whether they are registered sex offenders.

If so, those visitors won't be permitted beyond the office.

Wagner said substitute teachers, parent-teacher association volunteers and parents attending class parties and other functions will be scanned.

The system will print a name badge that includes the visitor's photo, a feature Wagner said she especially appreciates.

Coupled with the more permanent identification badges worn by employees, everyone encountered in school hallways should now be easily identified through district-issued photo identification, Wagner said.

The system logs a visitor's name, photo and the time of the scan. Other personal information is not retained, Wagner said.

Wagner said the system will not be used for events that draw a large crowd; she acknowledged it would be too unwieldy to check in every visitor at choir or band concerts and the like.

In those instances, new gates will be used to prevent visitors from wandering unsupervised through instructional areas of the schools.

One of the new gates was in use during the school board meeting on Tuesday.

Since the board room is in a hallway full of classrooms, a metal gate stretched across one end of the hall to keep people from accessing other parts of the high school.

The gates and visitor-management system plus additional metal detectors were bought through a $23,000 state grant the district sought last school year.

Wagner said information will be sent to parents explaining the new Raptor system and informational signs are posted at the offices.

She said anyone who is flagged as a sex offender will be able to visit school offices and interact with staff to drop off or pick up items for students and conduct other business.

Once word spreads that Burrell is using the system, Wagner said, she hopes the knowledge deters anyone convicted of crimes against children from even attempting to gain access to students.

Liz Hayes is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-4680 or lhayes@tribweb.com.

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