This article originally appeared in ThisWeek Community News and was written by Pamela Willis. To view the original article, click here.
REYNOLDSBURG, OH – Visitors to Reynoldsburg school buildings now need to present a state-issued ID if they want to get past the office.
The requirement is part of a new visitor-identification process in place for Reynoldsburg schools that can spot registered sex offenders, detect people in violation of a custody order or trespass warning and track criminal background checks to ensure volunteers working with students are properly cleared.
It went into effect Aug. 10.
Nick Keisel, the district’s director of security, said the new system is more stringent than the one it replaced.
“Access control can always be improved, and the previous system, in my opinion, was not stringent enough, based on who we are protecting — the children of our community,” he said.
“We no longer rely on an honor system of signing in to our schools, where a person could, theoretically, write down any name they wanted,” Keisel said. “With the Raptor Technologies’ visitor management system, we are requiring a current, state-issued ID, which allows us to positively identify and verify each person.
“The system also checks a national sex-offender registry every time a person enters the building and wishes to go beyond the main office,” he said.
The Raptor system cost the district $20,975, which includes software licensing, alert monitoring, technical support, database setup and on-site installation.
“The yearly software license renewal is $480 per location and includes the alert monitoring and technical support,” Keisel said.
Todd Hutchins, director of communications, said the district “has made the safety of our staff and students a top priority.”
“We’re always searching for new ways to accomplish this goal and give our students a better learning environment,” he said. “The new visitor management system fit our needs to do just that and has more safety options that can be added in the future, such as logging student attendance.”
Every building already has a buzz-in system that requires visitors to press a button outside a locked door and identify themselves to secretaries in the main office.
Under the new system, visitors entering a building must present a valid state-issued ID — such as a driver’s license — in the school office. That ID is then scanned into the Raptor system.
The system collects only each visitor’s name, date of birth and photo. It is not linked with the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles.
Once approved, a visitor will receive a badge that displays his or her name and photo, that day’s date and the purpose of the visit.
Hutchins said a visitor’s badge isn’t necessary for dropping off an item in the office or picking up paperwork. It is required if someone wants to go beyond the office or sign a student out of school.
The system is designed to alert key staff members if a sex offender is identified or if a private alert is triggered — for instance, if a custody-related court order, a protection order or trespass warning has been issued.
“In the event of an emergency, just one click of a button automatically sends a report to staff of who is in the building,” Keisel said. “This way, we can quickly and effectively account for all visitors.”
He said the system comes equipped with an emergency button on a computer screen for secretaries to use if they are unable, or deem it unsafe to make a phone call or transmit a radio message.
“Eventually, the Raptor will be integrated with our student database, which will allow the secretary to track tardy students or students being picked up early,” he said. “This will save the secretaries valuable time.”
Keisel said the district is always looking for ways to improve upon current building security.
“We must constantly analyze our current policies and procedures and identify weaknesses that could be exploited by someone wishing to do harm,” he said.
The new system is working well, although there were a few “minor operating issues” at first. “Overall, I think it was a great safety and security enhancement and perhaps will detect or deter future individuals attempting to do harm within our district,” Keisel said.