West Michigan School District Performs Instant Background Checks on Visitors

Posted at 12:52 PM, Mar 11, 2013
and last updated 2013-03-11 12:53:12-04

ALLENDALE, Mich.– It has been used in one school district for several years now. Allendale Public Schools has an extra barrier of security that can instantly let staff know if someone is not supposed to be in the building. The Lobby Guard has the ability to perform instant background checks on all visitors in any school in the district.

With numerous visitors and volunteers going into our children’s schools daily, sometimes just signing in isn’t enough to know just who they are.

“It’s kind of nice because you want to know who’s in the school,” said volunteer, Brad Ives. “Especially with all that’s been going on.”

Ives tutors children at Oakwood Intermediate School. While he may be a familiar face around the halls, he signs in at the front office with just the swipe of a card: his license. It’s technology that’s been used in Allendale Public Schools for several years now.

“It’s just another layer of security for us,” said Doug Bol, principal of Oakwood Intermediate School.

“[Visitors] can insert their driver’s license or punch in their name,” he said. “When that info is recorded, it does a quick background check and prints out the picture sticker.”

The Lobby Guard works with the national sex offender registry as well as customized lists of local offenders. It runs the name and information of everyone who signs in, and emails staff to let them know if someone has been flagged.

“Every once in a while we will have the name of someone visiting us who has the same name as someone around the country on a list,” said Bol. “But, we verify by picture and age and we know we’re dealing with the right person or someone that’s ok to be in the building.”

The process takes less than a minute and is part of a number of security measures the district does to protect students and staff. Large signs warning of security cameras are noticeable at the front doors and the ability to instantly lock school doors is housed in the front office.