Jan 142011
 
 January 14, 2011  Surveillance, Youth & Schools

First the roll-out of yet another “for the children’s safety” measure, as described by ABC News in Detroit:

The Detroit Public School system is launching a new security system designed to keep sex offenders out of the city’s schools.

The system works by running instant background checks against sex offender registries and then issuing ID badges that identify which area of a school a person is allowed to enter. Anyone who doesn’t pass the background check will not be allowed access to the school. Officials say the system will not check any other criminal databases.

The system can scan driver licenses and ID cards. It can also run checks using a visitor’s name and date of birth.

The ID badges that are issued by the system include the person’s name and picture. They are temporary and expire after a day. Contractors, regular volunteers and frequent visitors can be issued long-term badges.

Followed quickly by the concerns, as reported by Zenobia Jeffries of the Michigan Citizen:

As of Jan. 3, all visitors — including parents — to DPS will have to scan their driver’s license or state-issued identification to obtain a visitor’s pass with a photo I.D. to enter the school.

Although the system is slated for all schools in the district, it is only up and running currently at a few schools, including Martin Luther King, Jr. Senior High School (King).

Security officers and staff at King refused to comment to this reporter on how the system works or what database visitors’ identification is run through.

“All questions have to go to the district,” said Officer Brewer, campus security of DPS Department of Public Safety.

Speculation is circulating that the information is run through law enforcement, including Homeland Security.

Allegedly, two parents visiting King were arrested the week of Jan. 3, one for outstanding child support and the other for outstanding tickets. These arrests have not been confirmed.

Repeated attempts to get detailed information about the new system such as the name of the system, supplier, data bases into which the information flows and costs from DPS Emergency Financial Manager (EFM) Robert Bobb and his communications spokesperson Steve Wasko have gone unanswered.

Read more on Michigan Citizen. Both the ACLU of Michigan and the Michigan Citizen have filed FOIA requests to obtain more information.

A press release posted to the Detroit Public Schools web site says:

The system, which is being rolled out gradually to 33 sites, will instantly scan visitors’ driver licenses and state ID cards and cross-check the information with sex-offender registries throughout the United States and Canada. School security personnel can also conduct checks using visitors’ names and date of birth. It will eventually be set up at every DPS school.

Stay tuned… and thanks to the reader who pointed me to this story.

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