West Michigan School District Performs Instant Background Checks on Visitors

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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.

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12 comments

  • G. France

    Endeavor Charter Academy in Battle Creek has this in their lobby. I had no idea it performed background checks though.

  • the truth

    so if a person has a bad background and is there to pick up is own child or to see a teacher he is not allowed in just another way to make it harder on people to live there lives and that people cant get past that once someone payed for their crime and live any more

    • Seth

      I agree with this to a certain extent. I didn't think of it that way until I read your comment. Very interesting argument to be made!

    • Nicole DiDonato

      The story should mention how it is linked to the national sex offender registry and any local offender lists the school wants to add. The Lobby Guard is for visitors and volunteers to the school. __Nicole DiDonato FOX 17

  • parent

    Yes what if a parent has a bad background and not allowed to do anything with their child at school. dont you think that will be bad for a kid to say no you parent cant come to your concert or play or party cause they were a bad person in the past. you know how kids are, that info gets around more kids will be bullied. Just my opinion.

  • Very Skeptical

    I would be very skeptical on this especially considering the information that is on those "national" background databases. They can be very outdated and inaccurate also dependent on who supplies the database.