Carlynton implements new safety measure
Visitors stopping by Carlynton schools this year will need to remember their identification if they want to get inside the building.
The school district is ramping up security and accountability at its entrances in 2019-20, adding Raptor Technologies’ visitor management system.
With the system, school staff will scan every visitor’s identification. The system will then run the person’s information through the national sex offender database to check for matches. It also will keep track of who is in the building and when.
The system was funded through a grant from Safe Schools and will be active for student’s first day back on Aug. 26.
“It’s extremely important,” said Joshua Jones, supervisor of information technology, who is overseeing the implementation. “We need to know who’s in our buildings at all times.
“Our first priority is to make sure that our students are safe when they’re coming to school, because if they’re not safe, we can’t really do our primary mission, which is to educate the students.”
Districts across the region have been using checks, including the Raptor system, for many years. Jones, who came to Carlynton in May from the Ambridge Area School District, said his previous district implemented the program in 2017.
“You really don’t see school districts anymore that don’t have some kind of visitor management system that’s electronic and is doing checks,” he said. “I think it’s just become part of your regular day-to-day operations. It’s just something that schools have to do now. You just can’t afford not to.”
Until now, visitors of Carlynton Junior/Senior High School would sign their name on a piece of paper, fill out a name tag and be signed into the building, Jones said. At the elementary schools, sometimes staffers would ask for identification to verify the person was who they said they were.
With the new system, anyone entering the schools must present a valid government-issued identification, which includes passports, visas, driver’s licenses and photo ID cards.
Employees, including administrative support staff and principals, will be trained to scan the IDs.
If the person is found to be in the sex offender database, building-level administrators will be called to assess the situation and determine why the person is there, Jones said.
The district cannot prevent parents from seeing their child, he said. However, added protocols can be put in place, like an administrator walking the person through the building, or bringing the child to the parent.
The Raptor system prints a sticker with each person’s photo, where they’re going and the time and date they entered.
Having a sticker doesn’t grant a person the right to walk around the school aimlessly, Jones said. They still should be greeted at the school office by the person they’re meeting and escorted to where they’re going.
However, if they get lost, the sticker will help other employees direct them.
The system also will keep a log of who is in the building.
If there’s an emergency, district leaders can access this information from anywhere to see where visitors might be, Jones said.
Visitors need to check out when they leave the school.
Staff members also can keep notes in the system to alert others of potential dangers, he said.
If a visitor forgets their identification, Carlynton’s policy has some flexibility, allowing staff who know the person to manually enter their information through the system to run the check. However, the policy limits this to two times before the identification is required, Jones said.
After an identification is scanned once, the system will save its information, which can pulled up by name.
District leaders plan to notify parents about the new protocol through the district website and signs at the entrance.
“There will be some growing pains, I’m sure, there always is,” Jones said. “This isn’t meant to deter them from coming to the buildings. It’s a necessary thing. It’s just another way that we’re trying to keep students safe and the community safe.”