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Board of education discusses school security

Ideas include requiring school visitors to present identification and having students carry ID cards

March 11, 2013|By JULIE E. GREENE | julieg@herald-mail.com

WASHINGTON COUNTY — Requiring visitors to public schools to present identification and having students carry ID cards were two ideas raised by Washington County Board of Education members during a recent policy committee meeting.

The committee, which consists of three board members, reviewed three school security policies during its Feb. 28 meeting at the school system’s central office.

Board President Justin Hartings said it was worth reviewing the school security policies and seeing how they “might come into the 21st century.”

If people want to visit a school, they should provide identification, Hartings said.

The current visitors policy, policy KI from 1994, states, “The staff may demand identification and evidence of qualification from any persons who desire to use or enter the schools or school grounds.”

Today, school officials should demand the identification of anyone who goes into a school, Hartings said.

Board member Jacqueline Fischer, who chairs the policy committee, said last week the committee was reviewing school security policies in light of the Dec. 14 shootings at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school. Those shootings left 20 children and six adults dead, as well as the shooter.

The idea is to tighten school security policies based on people’s  concerns, Fischer said.

During the meeting, board member Karen Harshman asked whether there was a plan to give students IDs, such as the ones teachers wear.

Harshman said she was concerned about a reference in the visitors policy regarding students who are suspended or expelled. That section states such students “or others who do not have lawful business to pursue may be denied access to schools or school grounds.”

An expelled student’s ID could be taken away so the student couldn’t enter school lawfully, she suggested.

School system employees have identification tags that can be scanned to give them access to school buildings.

Steve Ganley, the school system’s safety and security manager, told committee members that one problem with student IDs is that students forget them.

School system spokesman Richard Wright said Monday that high school students receive photo ID cards from the photographer who takes class year pictures. Students who miss the photo day or makeup day might not have one, he said.

Each high school works with the ID cards in a different way, Wright said.

When Richard Akers, now director of secondary education and student services, was principal at South High, students were expected to carry ID cards to validate their identities, Wright said. Producing the card to access after-school events was sometimes mandatory, he said.

But no students are required to wear ID cards, nor are the cards used to get students into school buildings, Wright said.

Fischer said the committee asked for more information about student IDs.

The committee meets Tuesday, but the issue of school security is not expected to be on the committee’s agenda until its April meeting, Fischer said Monday.

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