Security systems scrutinized in Hart meeting

May 4, 2018. Eddy Martinez/The Signal.
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Security has been a hot-button issue on many school district board meeting agendas around the Santa Clarita Valley as violent acts occur at schools around the nation.

The William S. Hart Union High School District discussed the issue of security at its meeting of the governing board on Wednesday where chief administrative officer Collyn Nielsen announced that the district has identified a new visitor management system.

Raptor Technologies is designed to provide the district with a standardized and efficient method to process visitors at its 16 school sites and district office.

“With the new system, we’re able to confirm that visitors are who they say they are by using government-issued identification,” Nielsen said. “With Raptor technologies, school sites can accurately determine what level of campus access, if any, each visitor should be allowed in a matter of seconds.”

The system begins when visitors enter the office of a Hart district school. They will be asked to scan a government-issued identification through the system, and the district will check the visitor against the National Sex Offender Registry and other predefined lists that have been uploaded.

“Should there be a positive hit on the registry or other list,” Nielsen explained to the board, “the system includes an immediate notification process to a predetermined recipient.”

1,200 badges would be available every year for each site in possession of the security system.

Staff believes the new system would help ensure the district knows exactly who is entering their schools, but a few members of the board and audience thought the new system could create a number of unforeseen problems.

Residents in attendance griped that the limited number of available badges could pose a problem to schools who check in multiple guests each day. One speaker at the podium said some schools receive 50-60 people a day, not including the volunteers who enter school, which presents another unintended problem.

Another speaker at the podium Wednesday asked if the teachers, nurses and other district employees visiting schools in the Hart district will be stopped on a continuous basis.

Assistant Clerk Linda Storli presented the issue that not all Hart schools allow visitors to enter directly into an office, which could cause a logistics issue, and fellow board member Cherise Moore raised a concern pertaining to parents in the district who don’t have government IDs.

A few audience members said aloud that some parents will fear showing up to school, and as a result, may stop bringing their children altogether.

Board president Steven Sturgeon presented the fact that the district may be liable for a lawsuit once they install the new system.

As a result of the unanswered questions, members of the board seemed hung on Wednesday’s pending resolution.

“I like the idea of not letting bad people on campus,” Storli said. “I’m comfortable going ahead with this as long as we know we’ll work out the kinks.”

Nielsen admitted there are problems to be worked through with Raptor, but he still believes it’s better than the district’s current system.

“This would give us the knowledge to make informed decisions,” Nielsen said. The board is currently unable to know who’s on the registry’s list because they can’t access it.

Members of the board seemed to agree with Nielsen’s sentiment that a new security program is necessary. As did the Saugus Union School District, which will launch a pilot of the same visitor management system next year.

Superintendent Joan Lucid said multiple schools in the Saugus Union School District are in the process of implementing the Raptor Security System.

The Saugus district asked the same questions that Hart board members asked themselves on Wednesday, Lucid said. “It takes time to work out.”

Castaic has already implemented the security system, Lucid shared. “We started out with two school sites and they have been just fine,” so the board determined that they would implement Raptor Security systems at more schools in the near future.

The superintendent said there is nothing at this point that would make her or the district change their decision.

“The response coming from parents has been positive,” Lucid said. “They’re pleased with schools putting something more in place because there’s a high regard for what we’re doing with school security.”

Just as Nielsen shared with the board Wednesday, Lucid divulged that schools can manually insert parents’ information into the system which provides a solution to one of Hart’s issues.

“It’ll take time to get it going and figure out the right fit for each school,” Lucid said. “It’s easier to get an implementation program going here because our schools aren’t the size of a high school.”

As a result, the Saugus Union district doesn’t have the same challenges. And if they do, they’re able to deal with them differently, Lucid said.

“This has been a real good discussion,” Hart board member Bob Jensen said, referring to the situations discussed at the meeting. “I think we probably are going to have to work through those things as they occur.”

The board agreed, but Cherise Moore expressed a hesitation in approving something that could unknowingly affect a group of the Hart district community.

“I think it’s a good idea,” Moore said Wednesday, “but I’m curious how we’re going to approve this tonight without knowing how we’re going to address those schools that are different,”

Nielsen expressed that tabling the resolution might slow the anticipated rollout that was expected this fall, but the group unanimously voted to table the resolution until they could receive input from other schools on how the system has worked for them.

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