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Some local districts dubious about grand jury recommendation for students to wear ID badges as school safety measure

Some local districts dubious about grand jury recommendation for students to wear ID badges as school safety measure
The Newport-Mesa Unified School District says it has already implemented or is implementing five Orange County grand jury recommendations for tightening security at campuses, including Costa Mesa Middle School, pictured. (File Photo)

Some recommendations in an Orange County grand jury report calling on school districts to tighten security were met with skepticism by some local school officials, including a recommendation for all middle and high school students to wear ID badges on campus.

The grand jury’s nine recommendations, issued in May, were largely supported in school leaders’ responses due to jurors last week. Suggestions include fencing around schools, a countywide system for reporting unauthorized visitors, standardized campus visitor logs and sharing reports of unauthorized access with the Orange County Department of Education.

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However, Russell Lee-Sung, deputy superintendent of the Newport-Mesa Unified School District, wrote in a letter that his staff will need to further analyze the recommendation for middle and high school students to wear ID badges.

“While students are issued ID cards annually, they are not required to visibly display them while on campus,” Lee-Sung wrote. “The feasibility of making this a requirement and properly enforcing this new requirement poses many logistical challenges for large student populations.”

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Lee-Sung said the district’s analysis of the recommendation will be completed by Nov. 2.

Jeff Dixon, assistant superintendent of business services for the Laguna Beach Unified School District, wrote in a letter that his district will look into the “feasibility and enforcement” of ID badge requirements within six months.

Newport-Mesa says it has already implemented or is implementing five of the grand jury’s recommendations.

According to the district’s plans, by the start of the next academic year, each school will maintain a daily log of every visitor and volunteer entering and exiting the campus, except for special events. It also wants to add handheld radios for playground supervisors, physical education teachers, custodians and school resource officers.

Newport-Mesa also plans to explore sharing reports of unauthorized access with the Department of Education.

“It is essential that if this system were to be effective, it must be done in collaboration with the Orange County Department of Education, law enforcement and other O.C. school districts,” Lee-Sung wrote.

The Ocean View and Huntington Beach City school districts are introducing Raptor Technologies’ visitor and volunteer management system this year at their school sites. Under the system, a visitor must scan his or her driver’s license, which is immediately uploaded to an online database before staff can print an ID badge with the person’s photo and the purpose of the visit.

The Huntington Beach City School District also has earmarked part of its funding from Measure Q, a $159-million school bond measure, to add fencing and security cameras at schools that don’t have them.

The Fountain Valley and Huntington Beach Union High School districts’ responses to the grand jury report were not immediately available.

Daniel Langhorne is a contributor to Times Community News.

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