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Raptor System to go live at all Hastings Public Schools this fall

Instant sex offender background check will be done on all school visitors starting this fall; initial fee was $10,868

The Raptor System, a visitor management system designed to screen visitors for sex offenders, will go live at all the Hastings Public School buildings. The middle school and elementary schools have had the system for about 18 months, but Hastings High School and Tilden Community Center will see the system up and running this fall.

“The system is primarily looking for sexual predators,” said Deanna Werner, coordinator of district services for Hasting Public Schools.

Raptor combines the registered sex offender databases from all 50 states and performs an instant sex offender background check every time a visitor enters.

Werner said the school board started talking about ways to track who was in the buildings around the same time she received a cold call about the system.

“It was proactive,” Werner said. “It was a way of having a better idea of who was in our buildings and making sure that we’re doing the best that we can to prevent any kind of abuse occurring during school hours.”

According to Werner, the initial cost of Raptor for all six sites was $10,868. After that, there is an annual fee of $2,880.

How does it work?

When a visitor arrives at the school, they will be asked to have their license scanned. The system will look through the database of sex offenders to see if there is a match. Werner said it is not a full background check, but it is a way of knowing if a sexual predator is in the building. Their picture is kept on file so the person can be identified more quickly in future visits.

Once the person has been identified, they will receive a badge that lists their name, the date and where they are going in the building.

What happens if the system identifies a sex offender?

Werner said the system has seen about three positive identifications over the course of 18 months in the middle and elementary schools. If a registered sex offender is identified through the system, the principal is immediately notified as well as the district office.

The visitor is then accompanied by school personnel the entire time they are in the building. Werner said someone will be present or have a sightline to the visitor the entire time they are on the property.

“At no time would they be left to roam freely,” she said.

What other features does the system offer?

Another feature that is in use, is the silent alarm. An emergency button is visible no matter what page you are on in the system. If the person at the front desk finds him/herself in a situation in which they need to call for help but cannot extract him/herself, they can use this button. The silent alarm will call the main switchboard at the district office, send an email and text message to Werner and notify the building principal.

Raptor is primarily used as a visitor monitoring system, but it has other options that can be used in the future. One of those is a student and faculty sign-in option. The other is a volunteer option that can track who is volunteering, how many hours they are volunteering and more.

Michelle Wirth

Michelle Wirth graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire in 2013 with a degree in journalism and web design. She worked as a web content editor for a trade association before coming to the Hastings Star Gazette in 2016.

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