The goal is to identify who belongs in the building, and who doesn’t. VHS teachers and staff, as well as all visitors, are already required to wear IDs. Students could wear their ID cards on a lanyard that would be supplied by the school, or clip them to their clothing. A VHS staff member will check to see that all students entering the building have their ID visible. IDs would also be checked in the first class of the day. If a student does not have an ID available, his or her name would be sent to the attendance office for review and follow up. The pilot is to begin soon.
The plan drew a sharp rebuke from Board member Glenn Elliott. “I am shocked and outraged,” Elliott said, noting during the public meeting that he was somewhat calmer than when the proposal was aired in a private session earlier in the evening. “Mandating the weaing of IDs changes the culture of the school.”
Elliott said that, while he was completely in favor of making Verona schools more secure, “I have yet to see how this will improve school security.” He noted that all the participants at the evening meeting had walked into VHS without any challenge.
“This is a request, not policy,” Elliott said. “If you feel it is not something you want to participate in, then don’t. If you don’t speak up now it will likely be a policy going forward.”
Even before school security was reassessed in the wake of the Sandy Hook elementary school massacre in Connecticut, many schools in New Jersey and around the country required students to wear ID cards. In some districts, students swipe a bar-coded tag when they enter, eliminating the need for hand-written passes for tardiness. In others, the ID cards carry information about which children qualify for free or reduced-price lunches, which can spare students embarrassment at the cafeteria checkout.
But some school ID programs are much more sophisticated than what Verona is proposing. Schools in San Antonio, Texas issued cards this past fall that had radio-frequency identification chips in them, making it possible to track students’ movements in and out of their buildings. One student challenged the decision in court after she was suspended for refusing to wear her tag, but lost the lawsuit.