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DUSD implements Raptor Visitor Management System for increased school safety

Continuing efforts to strengthen safety for students and staff on its campuses, Delano Union School District has implemented the Raptor Technologies Visitor Management System at its 12 school sites.

According to District Director of Safety and Security James Hay, the idea of using the Raptor system was first brought to the district by Director of Physical Education and After-School Programs Kenneth Dyar a couple of years ago. The use of the system from the Texas-based company began with a pilot at a few school sites, but has now been rolled out to all schools.

Hay stated that Raptor serves two main functions at schools and in the district: managing visitors at schools and sending rapid alerts in emergency situations.

The visitor management aspect assists sites in making sure that it is appropriate for each visitor to be on campus. It also documents all people who are on campus at any time. Hay stated that this system is more efficient than the previous hard-copy, wet-signature sign-in system where those checking in had to be verified in the Aeries student information system used throughout the district.

Badges were given to those who have signed in, without any indicator that person was the person who actually signed in at the office. With Raptor, all visitors (whether parents or community members) are required to have their IDs scanned, which runs the information through the federal Megan’s Law database to assure that a registered sex offender is not entering their campus. If the person is cleared through the database, they are issued a badge that states their name, the date and time, and the campus at which they have been scanned.

Hay stated that identification cards that can be used with Raptor include either driver’s licenses or state-issued identification cards for those who do not drive. He stressed that the only information taken from the identification card to run through the data base is name and birthdate and that a copy of the ID card is not made through the scanning process (requiring visitors to scan their ID each time they visit a campus).

“If someone does not have their ID,” Hay said, “they will neither be able to enter the campus, nor pick up a child.”

The second function of Raptor is to provide quick alerts to school and district administration and local law enforcement of possible or pending emergency situations. Site administrators will be able to rapidly respond to a security breach, decreasing the likelihood of a catastrophic event on their campus.

“The alerts, once initiated, are nearly instantaneous in alerting those site and district administrators in which they are directed,” Hay said.

He stated that there were more than 2,000 visitors to DUSD schools last week and Raptor “worked flawlessly.”

The Raptor system is just one part of the student dismissal process. Once the adult is cleared in Raptor, emphasis is on site office staff to check identification to make sure that the person is either parent, guardian or another family member or person authorized to pick up the students that is listed in the Aeries system.

“We want to provide top-notch customer service at our schools,” Hay said, “but also work to insure the protection of our students.”

Site office personnel received extensive training from Raptor Technologies on the use of the visitor management system before it was fully implemented. Although there was some apprehension at first, the sites are comfortable with the system and have acquired proficiency with continued use.

Hay said Raptor has provided efficiency in processing visitors, but has also provided more intentionality and focus on who is actually on their campuses. Raptor’s customer service is very high quality, answering questions and concerns quickly, he added.

With school safety concerns regularly reported by the media, going as far back as the shooting incidents at Columbine in 1999 and Sandy Hook in 2012, schools and districts throughout the nation have taken major steps to work on modification to improve safety for its students and staff.

Hay said safety and security is always on the minds of educators. For some, it can lead to a feeling of not being safe. However, for most people, they are realizing that it is the norm in today’s society and they are assimilating to this new reality.

In addition to Raptor, the district installed buzzers at the entrance to each school’s office during 2018 to provide another layer of protection. Although there were a few minor annoyances during initial experiences with these safety measures, there has been no pushback from parents.

Additional components that will be added to the system at the school and district level will be visitor management (such as persons with book fairs and making deliveries) and factors such as restraining orders and child custody forms.

Mike Bledsoe is the director of child development services for Delano union School District.

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