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.