The Bakersfield City School District is increasing security by implementing a pilot check-in system that screens visitors to make sure they aren’t sex offenders.

Beginning Monday, six schools — Wayside, Evergreen, Douglas K. Fletcher and Leo G. Pauly elementary schools and Paul L. Cato and Sequoia middle schools — will be using the Raptor Visitor Management System, which performs a background check on any school visitor. An email was sent out to parents and guardians informing them of the change.

When a visitor enters one of these front offices, they will be asked to present a government-issued picture ID. The system scans the visitor’s name, date of birth, partial license number and photo for comparison with a national database of registered sex offenders, according to Tim Fulenwider, BCSD's director of instructional support services.

Once entry is approved, the Raptor system will issue a badge that identifies the visitor, date and purpose of the visit.

Additional visitor data will not be gathered and no data will be shared with any outside company or organization.

"Raptor will provide a consistent system to track visitors and volunteers for use during emergencies while keeping away people who may present a danger to students and staff members," Fulenwider said.

If a match is found in the sex offender database, an individual would be told to leave and the police would be called, Fulenwider explained. In some cases, however, there are parents who may be a registered sex offender.

"While these parents are entitled to participate in their child’s education, California law and Board Policy establish strict guidelines to ensure regarding sex offenders who are parents so that children are kept safe," he added.

Security is a top priority for parents when they send their children to school, so having a new check-in system available is a positive.

"This is something every school should have," said Richard Gonzalez, a Wayside Elementary School parent. "We need to be on our toes ... we're way past the what could happen, it's happening everywhere."

Parent Diana Torres, who has three children that attend Wayside, said she once searched through the sex offender registry and found "several" offenders in the area. 

"This is definitely a good thing," she said.

If the pilot program is successful, the Raptor system will be implemented across BCSD next school year. The remaining schools currently use paper sign-in/sign-out logs. 

Cato Middle School Principal Brooke Smothers-Strizic said she's looking forward to having her school be a leader when it comes to change in the district.

"I always like to be on the front end of things because we get to see it for ourselves and help with any problem solving that might come up," Smothers-Strizic said. "I like to be that proactive school and principal that is able to give feedback to make it even better so that when it does roll out to the entire district, I'm one of the principals that can give the feedback and my staff and I will be very familiar with it."

Other districts in Kern County have been using the Raptor system. The Panama-Buena Vista Union School District rolled it out this school year, and the Kern High and Delano Union school districts implemented it last year.

KHSD Police Chief Ed Komin believes having the Raptor system in place has made schools safer.

"We now know who’s on the campus," he said. "It prints out a visitor's badge, their picture and where they’re authorized to go. We’re stopping people from coming onto the campus when they’re prohibited by law."

There have been a few instances where a registered sex offender checked in at the front desk — whether they have a child in school or not — but Komin said appropriate actions were taken.

He also notes parent reaction overall has been positive.

Previously some KHSD schools used logbooks to keep track of visitors while others looked at IDs or took pictures of visitors.

Ema Sasic can be reached at 661-395-7392. Follow her on Twitter: @ema_sasic.

(8) comments

latinteacher

What do you do when a parents who is living in the US illegally and doesn't have a valid form of Identification?

ShellyStow

Will my comment be posted, or do I need to rephrase it?

ShellyStow

Thank you, Lily; you should be confused. The "makers of this device" are making big bucks off of school districts with something that does nothing to protect children. Any school that doesn't require visitors to produce ID is negligent; all schools should know who is on their campus at any given time. However, the value of this fades significantly when the primary check is against the SOR, and the value of it is totally negated when it leads parents actually to believe that it keeps their children safe. Check with your local law enforcement and see when the last time was that someone on the registry entered a school and molested or abducted a random child. Children are occasionally molested at school -- by those they know and trust, school personnel and faculty – and their peers. This procedure will save no children, and it has the potential for extreme humiliation to the children of registered citizens when they want or need to come to the school.

Carlos24

Shelly, I couln't agree with you more. This system will not be100 percent effective.

My point is there are quite a lot of sex offenders that are not on any list because

they have not been discovered yet. This system is useless as far as these folks

are concerned as they don' have any records yet. This is the kind of thing that

is sold to people on the basis that it will solve all their problems. But it won't

solve all the problems of sex offenders gaining entrance to school because it

does not track all sex offenders, only the one that have already been discovered.

Someone should look up the coming changes to the law. THere are provisions

in the new California laws to take some offenders off the list after a certain number

of years, five years I believe. As most experts believe you can never completely cure a sex offender it means that potential offenders can still offend with out being on any list. Someone is making a lot of money here by preying on parents fears.

ShellyStow

Thank you; yes, emphasis and focus needs to be on primary prevention, not on waiting until after crimes have been committed to react. Focusing on the registry to identify those who are harming children is like going to a dog shelter and going to room after room looking for a cat. It is almost total misdirection.

tompasek

Why did the reporter ask the obvious question regarding this statement: There have been a few instances where a registered sex offender checked in at the front desk — whether they have a child in school or not — but Komin said appropriate actions were taken. What are/were "appropriate actions?" Were authorities called to place him/her under arrest for violation of the sex offender laws?

Lilyrose

Who but the parents/ relative would be coming on campus that wasn't background checked ? And how would they then be able to attend child's functions?

The makers of this device is ? I'am all for protecting children, but confused.

ShellyStow

Lily, I submitted a comment addressing your confusion. If it does not get printed, I will try again.

Welcome to the discussion.

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