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News Eagle - Hawley, PA
  • School entrance kiosks planned; strengthen security

  • A new level of security is being planned at Wallenpaupack Area School District, with the addition of front entrance kiosks for visitors to show identification before they can enter.
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  •  A new level of security is being planned at Wallenpaupack Area School District, with the addition of front entrance kiosks for visitors to show identification before they can enter.
        Dr. Joann Hudak, Assistant Superintendent, explained to the School Board March 10th that the  District has seen an increase of child custody issues and Protection From Abuse (PFA) court orders that  affect who may come to pick up a child. One option which she said is becoming a trend among school districts is to install kiosks requiring the visitor to insert an indentification card such as a driver's license.
       Once the visitor swipes the card, the receptionist will be able to tell electronically whether the person identified by that card or license is on the school's list of persons not permitted to pick up a student. The computer will also automatically search for the identification against a national database of Megan's Law sex offenders.
         Visitors would not be able to enter the school without passing through the kiosk, Superintendent Michael Silsby said. Reading the data and allowing the person to enter would be a matter of seconds, he said. If the scanning of the identification did raise an alert, the receptionist could summon assistance from School Security or Administration.
       The kiosk is expected to be placed between the two sets of double doors at the main entrance of each school. Hudak said the inner doors to the school facility would not be opened unless the visitor was cleared.
       Once the visitor is cleared to enter, the computer will print a pass containing the time and date, the visitor's photograph and identiication, which would then be handed to the visitor. The visitor would no longer have to "sign in."
       Frequent visitors who the District is comfortable with receiving will have to pass through the kiosk but the process can be expedited, Silsby stated. A bar-coded key tag can be issued which would be scanned and a visitor pass printed.
      If the visitor did not have a driver's license or other photo identification, there is a procedure to enter the information manually, Hudak said.
       Wallenpaupack received a $25,000 grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Education, Office of Safe Schools to purchase the equipment, Dr. Hudak said. Six kiosks would be purchased, one for each school, the High School, Middle School, North Intermedate, North Primary, South Elementary and Hawley Center.
        Dr. Hudak said one vendor provided the Administration with a demonstration, and they will be talking with other suppliers as well before making a purchase. She said that they hope to install them this summer and implement them for the 2014-2015 school year.
    Page 2 of 2 -    "It's all in the name of safety," Hudak said. The Wallenpaupack Area School District, which has had an emergency action plan in place for years, reviewed their procedures in 2013 following the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT. Over the summer, the School District hired their first detail of School Resource Officers.
       Silsby stated that the students won't have to pass through the kiosk when arriving at school, unless the student is late. In that case, the student will go through the kiosk and will be issued an electronically-generated pass marked "tardy."

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