Junior and senior high school students in Altoona, Penn. have been told by school administrators that they will comply with the school-mandated photo ID cards, or face detention.
A report from the Altoona Mirror reveals that detention halls have been in heavy use since issuing the ultimatum. To make matters worse, disciplinary action applies to students who simply forget their IDs as well.
The crux of the issue seems to be that the students do not believe the IDs – which were instituted to increase campus security – to be effective. “I don’t know how it will stop someone from coming into the school,” says Katelyn Mauser, a junior at Altoona.
The IDs at Altoona High School follow a method that many other schools are instituting across the country, they are worn around the neck using a lanyard.
For the fashion-forward high school student, this method is unacceptable and has caused some backlash. Other, more realistically minded students, however, aren’t put off by the lanyards and see the merit in the ID system.
“I don’t think they are needed, but I don’t think they are useless,” says senior Devaughn Brawley. “I just put it on because I was told to – ‘for security reasons,’ which implies the whole Newtown thing.”
School administrators have not specifically revealed the reason for the ID badges, but in addition to previous school violence, students from neighboring schools have been entering Altoona as a kind of joke. The IDs, then, serve as a quick and efficient means of identity verification.
School officials have handed out detentions to students for simply forgetting to wear their IDs. The security of the ID initiative, however, will hinge not on the badges themselves, but the personnel that monitor access to the school.
“Forgetting to wear an ID badge isn’t a breach of security,” says Martin Burchner, parent of an Altoona junior high student. “Letting a 48-year-old man walk the halls of your school, that is a breach of security.”
Burchner statement comes after entering the school to pick his son up. Burchner was required to only provide a driver’s license by the school’s greeter – a procedure that Burchner does not believe makes the campus safer.
Looking forward, the Altoona school board is considering a visitor management system that will identify sex offenders, parents without custody or other unwarranted visitors at the door and turning them away. Designating $106,000 for the future security measures, one proposal supports the purchase of a State College-based visitor management software that checks IDs against the Megan’s Law database among other local databases.
The School Gate Guardian system costs $4,285, and would allow the school to create local databases by logging information from documents like protection-from-abuse orders or brief physical descriptions that help identify visitors. The system also allows users to send text messages to principals and police in the event an unwanted visitor arrives at the school.