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SPOTLIGHT
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New security system will check Wichita school visitors against sex offender database

Published on -8/20/2014, 4:46 PM

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By Suzanne Perez Tobias

The Wichita Eagle

(MCT) Wichita schools in the Southeast High feeder pattern will begin implementing a new security system Thursday that scans visitors' driver's licenses and checks them against a nationwide database of sex offenders.

The Hall Pass visitor management system was tested at four southeast Wichita schools in May. Last month, district leaders voted to spend up to $200,000 to install scanners at all 91 school buildings this fall and train employees to use them.

Beginning Thursday, visitors who come to any school in the Southeast feeder pattern -- Southeast, Coleman, Curtis, Christa McAuliffe, Allen, Beech, Bostic, Caldwell, Clark, Jefferson, Minneha, Price-Harris and Seltzer -- will be required to sign in by scanning their driver's license or government-issued identification card each time they visit the school during bell hours. Visitors without a driver's license or other ID will have their information entered manually, officials said.

The system performs an instant screening for sex offenders and prints a date-specific photo ID badge for visitors to wear during their visit. If the system flags a non-authorized visitor, school administrators and district security will be alerted and "appropriate procedures" followed, the district said in a news release.

Wichita schools will continue to implement the Hall Pass system throughout the fall semester, as follows:

Aug. 28 -- North High feeder: North, Marshall, Pleasant Valley Middle and Elementary, Horace Mann, Black, Cloud, Irving, McLean, OK, Ortiz, Park, Riverside and Woodland.

Sept. 4 -- Northwest High feeder: Northwest, Wilbur, Benton, Kensler, McCollom, Peterson, Levy, Gateway, Little, Sowers, Greiffenstein, Wells and Chisholm Life Skills.

Sept. 11 -- South High feeder: South, Truesdell, Anderson, Cessna, Cleaveland, Enders, Enterprise, Kelly, White and Woodman.

Sept. 18 -- East High feeder: East, Jardine, Mead, Robinson, Gordon Parks, Adams, College Hill, Colvin, Griffith, Hyde, Linwood, Mueller, Spaght and Washington.

Sept. 25 -- Heights High feeder: Heights, Northeast Magnet, Chester I. Lewis, Brooks, Stucky, Buckner, Chisholm Trail, Earhart, Gammon, Isely, Jackson and L'Ouverture.

Oct. 2 -- West High feeder: West, Metro-Meridian, Allison, Hadley, Hamilton, Mayberry, Dodge, Franklin, Gardiner, Harry Street, Lawrence, Payne and Stanley.

Visitors will be required to check in each time they visit. Frequent visitors may request a key-fob ID to make check-in scanning easier.

Adults just stopping by the office -- picking up children who are sick or who have an appointment -- will not have to be scanned. Neither will district employees with an official USD 259 ID badge.

Terri Moses, director of security for the Wichita district, said earlier this year that the new security measure wasn't prompted by any specific incident or concern. "This is just another tool in our tool belt that allows us to further check people who have access to children in our schools," she said.

Scanners will be in the main office and will be operated by clerks at most schools. At high schools, however, where the main office isn't always close to the main entry door, a scanning system will be set up at the primary entrance and will run by a staff member, Moses said.

For more information on the Hall Pass system, visit www.visitormanagement.usd259.org.

(c)2014 The Wichita Eagle

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