The Hall County school system’s new security program, put in place to identify registered sex offenders, could hinder some families’ access to schools.
The system requires identification, which is scanned to search for names on the sex offender registry. Appropriate identification includes most government-issued IDs, including driver’s licenses, passport cards and green cards, any official photo documentation.
But those in the country illegally might not have the necessary ID to be allowed into the schools.
“The official policy or procedure is that no one without an identification goes past the security doors,” said Lt. Earl Roach, school safety coordinator. “That’s official.”
The issue of a parent without documentation has not been a problem for the school system, according to Roach. He said he was not aware of any requests made by parents without IDs to enter schools.
Roach noted that several families within the school system may not have the necessary IDs, and that the system may look into a future policy to handle those situations.
“We probably will run into that problem,” Roach said. “I don’t know exactly what the answer will be.
“I think we need to have something in place, just in case,” he added, saying that he could see it be either a district policy or established by the individual schools.
There’s really no way to know how many students with undocumented parents are in the system.
“We can’t even ask so we wouldn’t know,” said Cindy Tu, the interim English for Speakers of Other Languages coordinator. “We’re required to enroll everyone, so that’s not something we ask.”
Roach said that the topic of appropriate identifications came up when he conducted a training session with some of the Hispanic liaisons for the schools prior to the Raptor system being put in place.
“They asked any kind of question to help parents in the future, in terms of getting in to our schools or checking their children out,” Tu said.
She said that there was mostly the concern about what type of identification the Raptor system took, or if it would be tracking immigration status.
The Raptor system is in place only for people attempting to enter the school building itself, Roach said, and only checks whether someone is a registered sex offender.
The role of the liaisons is to encourage parents to come into the schools, Tu said.
“We just want to reassure (parents) to know this information,” Tu said. “That system is not there to do any other purpose than to protect the staff and the children in the school.”
“It’s only if you want to visit, like if you want to go and eat lunch with your children,” Roach said. “If you don’t go past those security doors, you’re fine.”
As of Sept. 12, more than 17,000 people had been scanned through the Raptor system, with eight identified as registered sex offenders.
“It really is not a way to block parents out,” Tu said.