Aspen School District launches new security system to check visitors | AspenTimes.com

Aspen School District launches new security system to check visitors

The Aspen School District is rolling out a system that will prescreen visitors before they are allowed entry into its campus' three schools.

The Raptor Visitor Management System debuts Monday at the elementary school. The middle schools will implement the technology in November or December, while the high school will aim for the beginning of the second semester, said Angela Rittenhouse, the administrative assistant for the superintendent's office.

"We want to make sure to be as prepared as we can," she said, adding the web-based program carries a cost of approximately $4,500.

The pre-screening system works like this: Once a visitor enters a school, the person will be required to produce a state-issued identification that's scanned into the system, which will compare the ID's name, date of birth, and photo with a national database of sex offenders. Those who clear the screen will receive a badge with their name along with the date and purpose of their visit. Passports can also be used.

Visitors will undergo the verification process just once after being entered into the system.

"Additional visitor data from the driver's license is not gathered nor is the system connected to any other system such as the Department of Motor Vehicles," Superintendent Dr. John Maloy said in a statement about the new system. "Therefore, any other information on the ID is not scanned by the system and is not accessible to any of the users."

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Those without an ID will be allowed access to the school, but only through a staff member's escort.

Visitors to the schools currently enter their name and vehicle's license plate number in a hand-written log.

Pitkin County Sheriff's Deputy Paul Hufnagle, who teaches street law at the high school and is its resource officer, said the Raptor system will modernize and outdated system.

"Raptor is the best thing out there," he said. "We spent a lot of time looking at systems and we really thought that was the best one, and I think the school made a great move by modernizing it so the people don't have to come in write in a book and get a name tag. It can all be done automated and takes a lot of the work off the receptionists."

Those visiting the schools simply to drop off an item in the front office or retrieve paperwork, for example, won't need a visitor's badge.

"The safety of our students and staff is our highest priority and we trust it is yours as well," wrote Chris Basten, principal of the elementary school, in an email to parents Friday, adding the "system will better allow us to track visitors, volunteers, and contractors in our school and provide us with a safer environment for our students and staff.

rcarroll@aspentimes.com

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