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McKeesport Area looks to make schools safer

Michael DiVittorio
| Thursday, Oct. 17, 2013, 3:36 a.m.

McKeesport Area School District officials are looking to make their schools safer through technology from Raptor.

Raptor is a visitor management system for school security, providing instant sex offender and background checks to enhance safety.

School directors and administrators discussed a proposed agreement between the district and the company at Wednesday's workshop meeting. An identification scanner would be used in every building at a cost of approximately $1,600 each, for a total of $6,400. The devices would be installed by the entrances where a school guard or police officer would greet incoming visitors.

People would scan their driver's license or any state identification, and the machine would instantly conduct a sex offender background check.

School director and McKeesport police Officer Joe Lopretto said he brought up the technology two years ago after seeing it in action at a school board conference.

“It automatically prints out a picture, gives you a name, all the pertinent information that you need,” Lopretto said. “If there would be a Megan's Law offender it would red flag it right away and make sure you're not coming into our building. It's just going to keep the violators out of our schools.”

Superintendent Timothy Gabauer said visitors would have their ID scanned prior to going through metal detectors or other searches the district currently requires before entering a facility.

The agreement may be approved at next week's regular board meeting.

“I don't see anybody that has a dissenting view of it,” Gabauer said. “It just sounds like the next step in security that we need.”

The district is examining its policies on volunteers, including the specific clearances required.

The board conducted the first reading of the policy on background checks for volunteers last month and is expected to adopt it at the next meeting.

The board may approve a service agreement between the city and the district for police services, not to exceed $100,000.

Other items discussed Wednesday include a varsity softball team trip to Myrtle Beach for the 2014 Ripkin High School Spring Training Experience, March 26-30; a ninth-grade football players trip to watch Youngstown State University play against North Dakota State University on Nov. 16; and a junior and senior band and orchestra trip to historic sites in New York City April 4-6.

Michael DiVittorio is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1965, or mdivittorio@tribweb.com.

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