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Laguna Beach school visitors will have names checked against national sex offender database

Beginning next month, visitors to any of Laguna Beach’s four public schools will need to provide identification to be checked against a nationwide sex offender database.

To beef up security, the Laguna Beach Unified School District board on Tuesday approved a contract with Houston-based Raptor Technologies to install a computerized system that will check a person’s name against the database, according to a news release. The initial cost is $8,250, with a $2,700 annual fee to access the software.

“This system will further enhance the district’s efforts to improve safety at all schools by allowing school officials to monitor who visits the schools and when they are in the buildings,” Jeff Dixon, interim assistant superintendent of business services, said.

School personnel will scan a visitor’s driver’s license, state identification or passport. The software then will run the person’s name, address and photograph through the sex offender database and get nearly instantaneous results, the release said.

Once cleared, the visitor — for instance, a contractor, volunteer or parent — will be issued a badge to wear while on campus.

The badge will bear the person’s picture and name, the time and date of the visit, and the area of the school that he or she is visiting.

If the system identifies a match between the visitor and the database, a school administrator is alerted.

Laguna Beach Unified’s safety committee has been evaluating security procedures and communicating with other districts over the last year, Leisa Winston, assistant superintendent of human resources and communications, wrote in an email.

Under the current system, visitors sign in at a school’s front desk and receive something indicating their status — depending on the school, it could be a generic badge or a sticker with little more than a name on it.

The new system will store no information other than a person’s name and whether he or she is a sex offender, officials said.

In the Irvine Unified School District, 35 of 38 campuses are using the system, spokeswoman Annie Brown wrote in an email.

“We viewed this system as an opportunity to enhance student safety while streamlining our volunteer-screening process,” Brown said. Irvine is working to bring the remaining three high schools on board.

Nationwide, Raptor has identified and alerted officials to more than 50,000 sex offenders attempting to enter schools and issued over 250,000 custody alerts, according to the company's website.

bryce.alderton@latimes.com

Twitter: @AldertonBryce

Alderton writes for Times Community News

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