NAPPANEE — Visitors to Wa-Nee Schools used to sign their name on a check-in sheet and pick up a generic visitor’s tag before heading into the school.
This year, the district is tightening security by doing a limited background check on every visitor — even parents — using new equipment it purchased with a Department of Homeland Security school safety grant.
“What this does is, it will scan (the visitor’s) photo ID or driver’s license,” Superintendent Joe Sabo explained, adding that Amish families who may not have a photo ID can just use their regular ID.
The system checks to see if the visitor’s name comes up on sex offender databases. If it does, emails and text messages are automatically sent to administrators and the district’s school resource officer.
"I can get there a lot faster (with the new system) where before someone had to call me and let me know, ’Hey, we've got an offender here in the lobby,’“ school resource officer Steve Rulli said.
He added that the system will also flag names that are similar to names that appear on sex offender databases, but it will show photos of the sex offenders on a screen to the office personnel.
If, for example, the John Smith checking in is not the John Smith that appears in the database, school personnel can verify that by checking the photo against the person standing in front of them.
Once the visitor has been cleared, a sticky visitor’s badge with their picture, the time they checked in and the location they are visiting is printed for the visitor to attach to their clothing.
When visitors leave, they check out at the office.
The new system allows the district to keep better track of who is in the buildings at what time, so those records would be easy to review if needed, Rulli said.