School uses high-tech checkpoint for
FAST ID CHECK AT DAVIDSON ELEMENTARY.
By MIKE SAVICKI, Charlotte Observer Special
The kiosk at Davidson Elementary looks more like a bank ATM than
something normally found at a school.
But school officials say the system is helping make students and staff
Last week's school shootings at Virginia Tech is once again bringing
increased attention to the issue of school campus safety. The shootings
left 33 dead, including the gunman.
In the Lake Norman area, Davidson Elementary started using the
electronic system in the fall to track visitors. The system provides a
record of everyone on school grounds at all times. The goal is to
improve school security, said PTA president Laura Daily.
When a visitor arrives at Davidson Elementary, the person swipes a
driver's license or keys personal information on the lobby kiosk. The
kiosk then snaps a picture of the visitor and prints a single-use
visitor badge that must be worn at all times while on school grounds.
At the same time, the system checks the visitor against national and
state sex offender registries and, if the visitor is a match, the office
is alerted and staff takes appropriate action to prevent the offender
from entering the school.
"The primary concern is always the safety of the students, so I love
having the picture ID right on the badge so you can see who each person
is at the school and make sure they match," Daily said. "It's a step up
in adding a sense of security that was never there before."
The trend to strengthen school safety and security is increasing
nationwide, and the focus is on electronics.
In Florida, where the demand for background checks came from school
systems themselves, the state passed the Jessica Lunsford Act. The act,
commonly known as Jessica's Law, requires schools to screen campus
visitors, volunteers and vendors against criminal databases.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools has 10 LobbyGuard units in schools and
The system helps school staff recognize visitors by generating the
uniform visitor badge, said Davidson Elementary Principal Celeste Ellis.
The kiosk also features an option that allows the school to build its
own database for its children, Ellis said. That could be useful in a
divorced family, she said, where one parent isn't authorized to pick up
"The machine allows us to identify the person while still in our office
and not after they have checked out the child," she said.
A parent donated the LobbyGuard system to the school, Ellis said. The
PTA paid for an add-on feature that allows parents and frequent visitors
to swipe their own key tag in front of the machine to log in and out
each time they visit. Their information is already stored in the system,
Ellis said it replaces the
seemingly endless staff hours devoted to writing out visitor badges and
"With everything that is happening across the country related to school
security," Ellis said, "anything we can do to make our school safer is a