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Tighter security ahead for Peru Community Schools

By Blair Yankey - byankey@perutribune.com

A new system will soon be in place at Peru Community Schools to add an extra layer of security for the 2017-18 school year.

Workers on Monday began installing new technology requiring visitors to scan their driver’s license or state identification card when they enter any of the district’s four buildings.

The visitor’s name is then instantly checked against the sex offender registry and legal documents database. If any matches exist in the databases, the system will send out instant notifications – mobile text, email, or voice call – to any staff members in the building that need to be aware.

Assistant Superintendent Kenneth Hanson said the district hasn’t experienced many safety problems in the past, but there have been some, and it was hard to manually cross reference those lists.

“It was always a daunting task for our secretaries to identify each and every visitor that enters the doors of our buildings,” said George Morris, technology solutions administrator for the Peru School District. “There wasn’t a good way to know if the visitor had any restraining orders, was a registered sex offender, or had any legal rights to visit a student.”

With the new system, made by a company called Raptor Technologies, the secretaries and front desk staff will know with the click of a button. Hanson said the system will not only help the district track visitors, but also contractors, volunteers and substitute teachers.

The company’s system is used by school districts nationwide, and scanned 62,587,664 visitors so far this year, according to Raptor Technologies’ website.

The district may also use the system to scan students who are running late or leaving for a doctor’s appointment, Hanson said, but no final decision has been made. “It has up to five different modules that will allow us to manage who’s coming and going,” he said.

In addition to the database scans, staff members also have the ability to press an emergency button that immediately dispatches the district’s school resource officer, building principals and anyone else the system is programmed to alert, Morris said.

“We needed a good way to know that our visitors pose no threat to our students, and keep our students safe from individuals who should not have access to them,” Morris said. “But we needed to achieve this without restricting access to parents, guardians, community members and contractors that might be performing maintenance work in the buildings. This system solves all of that for us.”

The program also integrates with the district’s student management system, and knows who all the guardians, parents and emergency contacts are for each student, Morris said. That way, if a person shows up asking to visit a specific student, the system will alert the staff member if that person is not a guardian or a relative.

Hanson said the initial investment for system is $6,000, along with an annual investment of $540 per building. He said the district plans on using an Indiana Safety Grant for ongoing fees.