Q: I’m concerned about visitor management protocols at my child’s school. Yesterday, I went to pick my child up from school early. No one asked me to identify myself. Surprised, I asked them if they needed to see ID. Although they looked at my ID, they didn’t verify whether I was one of the people authorized to pick up my child from school. What can I do to make sure the school is verifying visitors and asking for identification?
A: Most schools at least require that visitors sign in and present ID in this situation. Others take it a step further and verify your information with their records. Still others, utilize “visitor management” technology to scan and even run a visitor’s ID through a database, which then supplies a badge or pass, if the visitor is approved.
I recommend reaching out to the principal to share your experience (I am sure he/she will want to know) and reinforce your expectation for your child’s safety. It could be that there is not an established protocol in place. Unfortunately, lots of school communities feel that they don’t need to worry about this. If this is the case, you might offer to help them think it through and toward a safer solution. It could also be that the office staff was busy or you were dealing with a substitute. Either way, it’s important to figure out what is at the root of this safety issue. If your daughter’s school has a school resource officer or police liaison, I would ask that that person join the conversation as well. It is not easy to have to approach your child’s school about a problem you have found, but if you are able to come forward positively and ready to help, as well as firm about your expectation, you are likely to have success.
Other resources you can reach out to in the school are the school counselor, and of course, your child’s teacher. It may also be helpful to discuss this with other parents and/or members of the PTA/O. I applaud you for speaking up in the moment, asking, “Don’t you need to see my ID?” With this simple action, you communicated your expectation and actually changed the action of the staff member. You are already moving things in a safer direction. There is no firm requirement for schools to develop and implement visitor management protocols at this point. It’s up to us to speak up and change that. Please keep us posted on your progress and be ready to stick with it until you feel that your child is safe.
– Michele Gay, Co-founder and Executive Director of Safe and Sound Schools
Update: Since the parent’s meeting with the principal, the school has improved their process, making sure school members are aware of new greeting and visitor management protocols. Visitors are now required to provide ID and share their visitation purpose. There is a sign posted on the door to remind visitors not to hold the door open for others. School members are required to verify whether visitors are authorized to pick up the child.
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