Are Background Checks the Next Step for School Visitors?

Visitors have to jump through some additional hoops at a number of schools around the country, including getting a background check if attempting to visit a school in the Frankfort suburb of Chicago. Anyone wishing to gain entrance will need to bring a state-issued ID so that security personnel can run a query on their criminal history.

The system was put into place recently, in part as a response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School attack in Newtown, Connecticut. It gives school employees the ability to run a quick screening using a national crime database on anyone wishing to enter the school.

"What we are trying to do is that anybody in the building has a purpose once in the building," superintendent Dr. Thomas Hurlburt said.

The district recently installed a new system that quickly checks for a visitor's criminal background via a national database.

The procedure for getting in is fairly involved and starts right at the front door. First, all visitors are buzzed in and must hand over their ID to the staff on duty. The machine installed for the purpose scans the ID and spits out a report almost immediately. In addition, a visitor's tag – including a picture – is printed and must be worn at all times on school grounds.

As first-grade teacher Karen Monaco found out, no visitor is exempt from the new system.

"I even noticed when we had our fireman the other day, he even had to go through the process of the sticker," Monaco said.

Monaco said the new system gives her an extra layer of protection and extra time in case of an emergency.

It appears – at least for now – that parents are embracing the system, as there have been no complaints lodged since it went into effect. One parents whose child attends the school said that this precaution should not be an issue for anyone who has nothing to hide.

Purchasing the program as well as installing the hardware and training the staff cost the school approximately $2,000.

Parents don't appear to be under the impression that such measures could prevent a Sandy Hook recurrence, yet that doesn't mean that it doesn't have its uses. As ABC reports, it might not prevent a Newtown tragedy, but it will prevent a tragedy. Another parent said that it could also act as a deterrent to someone contemplating an attack.

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