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VHS To Ask Students To Wear ID Cards

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myveronanj--vhsAt its Tuesday meeting, the Board of Education approved a pilot program to have Verona High School students wear their student ID cards during the school day.

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.”

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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.

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Virginia Citrano
Virginia Citranohttps://myveronanj.com
Virginia Citrano grew up in Verona. She moved away to write and edit for The Wall Street Journal’s European edition, Institutional Investor, Crain’s New York Business and Forbes.com. Since returning to Verona, she has volunteered for school, civic and religious groups, served nine years on the Verona Environmental Commission and is now part of Sustainable Verona. She co-founded MyVeronaNJ in 2009. You can reach Virginia at [email protected]

1 COMMENT

  1. The issue is not really the wearing of an ID card, but how access to the building is being regulated. If you want to issue ID cards to students in order to allow said access, fine. But without a “gatekeeper” (this sounds much better than “security guard”), the IDs are a moot point.

    I have some experience with security, since as part of my job I travel to high schools all over NJ, and I often arrive without an appointment. Many local high schools take security seriously, where once inside the door I am confronted with a security guard who checks my ID, radios ahead that I am on my way, and keeps me in sight while I report to the main office or until someone comes to get me. And these are not “dangerous” schools, and much closer to Verona than you think.

    Then there are the other schools. While the front door is locked, after introducing myself through the intercom I am buzzed in and told to report to the front office. There are also the schools where the front door is open and I walk right in. Or perhaps a side or back door, because that’s the one adjacent to the parking lot. My fiancé will tell you I have a horrendous sense of direction, so in each of these cases I often wander the halls unencumbered until I find what I am looking for.

    Is it because I say I am there for a reputable purpose? Is this because I look “safe”? Or is it because I give the impression that I belong there, and I shouldn’t be questioned? Yes, an ID should cause someone to question me as I wander the halls, but the difference is that I am there for a legitimate purpose. If their intent is to do harm, once someone is in the building it is really too late.

    And yes, I’ve been issued a “guest badge” at almost every one of these schools, but once in the building I cannot remember one instance when anyone looked at it. I also have a lanyard with my work ID attached to it – I bought it at the bookstore. I’d bet if I had the right colored cord I could attach my Foodtown card, and no one would even slow me down.

    I realize I am basically laying out the ways to subvert the measures set to protect our students, and perhaps I might scare some people. I sincerely apologize for this, but better to do that than to promote a false sense of security. Yes, I think that the intent behind the IDs is a good one, and long overdue. But without a consistent presence regulating the entrances, I do not think IDs are enough.

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