The new policy, and the equipment purchases to support it, were authorized during October
POTTSTOWN PA – New visitor screening and security measures at all five Pottsgrove School District buildings, which require every guest who arrives during school hours to show an acceptable form of photo identification and undergo a computerized background check, will take effect Jan. 22 (2013), the district announced Monday (Dec. 17, 2012) in a widely distributed e-mail.
Although introduction of the new rules appears to coincide with national concerns over school security in the wake of last Friday’s (Dec. 14) shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown CT, the policy and equipment for its implementation were approved two months ago by the district Board of School Directors.
To conduct the background checks, the district will rely on an electronic visitor management system marketed by LobbyGuard Solutions LLC of Raleigh NC. It compares the name of visitors against a federal database of registered sex offenders. Guests will be allowed to continue through security clearance procedures if no match is found in the database.
As in the past, visitors to any school must report to its main office upon their arrival. Then:
- All visitors will be required to produce a driver’s license or other government issued photo ID (or provide appropriate identifying information, if no such ID is available);
- A designated staff member will scan the visitor identification. If there no alert is indicated in the database, visitors will receive a badge that includes their photo, name, time, date and destination;
- Visitor badges must be worn by visitors at all times while in a building;
- Visitors must return to the office to check out when they leave a building; and
- Bags and parcels brought into school by visitors may be searched at the discretion of the building administrator;
If the database indicates a match to a registered sex offender, the designated staff member will immediately contact the building principal, who will notify the superintendent to determine next steps based upon the district administrative regulations.
For identified parents or guardians of a student who are listed in the database, administrative regulations will be followed to determine whether the individual may be granted limited access to a school while being escorted by school personnel.
Visitors who refuse to produce identifying information may be directed to leave a school. School principals may allow limited access, based on their personal understanding of the situation or knowledge of the visitor. Background checks for those persons, however, will be manually entered into the system.
When proper identification is presented, the process should take less than a minute, Pottsgrove predicted in its e-mail. Check-ins may be temporarily suspended at the discretion of the superintendent on certain special event days, or when students are not in a school.