The Bakersfield City School District is looking to make its campuses safer with a new visitor system that checks for sex offenders.
Starting today, six BCSD schools — Wayside, Evergreen, Douglas, Fletcher and Pauly elementary schools and Cato and Sequoia middle schools — are using the Raptor Visitor Management System.
When visitors come to these schools, they are now required to present a photo ID for the system to scan. Information from the scan is then cross-referenced in a national sex offender database to check for any offenses.
If all is well, the Raptor system prints out a badge with a photo of the visitor to use while on campus. The badges also include the date it was issued and what the visit is for, BCSD said.
“The safety of our students is always of top priority at the Bakersfield City School District,” the district said in a letter recently sent out to parents. “Part of keeping students and faculty safe is knowing who is in our buildings at all times. The Raptor system allows us to better screen visitors and quickly identify those that may present a danger to our students.”
The new system does not conduct background checks or search for other visitor information, such as their immigration status or criminal information other than sex offender status, the district said.
If a visitor doesn’t have an ID, the district said a school staff member can use a different form of identification and manually enter the person’s name into the system.
BCSD Public Information Officer Irma Cervantes said the district has been considering an electronic system like Raptor for several months and have been looking at how other districts with the same or similar systems have been doing.
The Panama-Buena Vista Union School District implemented the Raptor system this year while the Kern High School District has been using it since last year.
The Raptor system is a big change from how BCSD schools have traditionally checked in visitors. For many years, visitors would just physically sign in and get a pass. A badge is not necessary for visitors simply dropping off an item in the office or picking up paperwork.
“The new system should not be viewed as a deterrent to any of our visitors. Rather, the intent is to insure all visitors are registered in the office and screened prior to having access to the campus,” the district said.
Cervantes said they chose the six schools participating in the pilot due to the variety they provide in terms of location, parent involvement, student demographics and more.
“We’re trying to be diverse so we can get different perspectives from parents, staff and other stakeholders,” she said.
The plan is to expand the system to all BCSD schools next school year, Cervantes said. In the meantime, she said the district is looking to work out any issues that may arise this year.
“We haven’t heard about anything going wrong or any complaints,” she said about how the first day of the system was going. “Everything seems to be going smoothly.”