Distinguishing students and staff members from visitors on school campuses is a whole lot easier this year, as the Turlock Unified School District implemented one of its new safety protocols — required identification badges.
Required ID badges for students in grades seven through 12, and all staff members, is one way the district is trying to tighten security at all school sites.
"Safety has always been a paramount with us and our students' safety is our number one priority,” said TUSD Superintendent Sonny Da Marto. “Overall, parents should feel secure knowing that their children will be secure in our district.”
According to Pitman High Principal Rod Hollars, both the staff and students on his campus have been receptive of the identification program. He compared the new identification plan to the cell phone ban that was implemented in 2009.
“I see an analogy between that period of time and the lanyards, “ said Hollars. “The vast majority of kids just wear the lanyard (and ID badge) and come to school; it’s not that big of deal for them.”
Hollars stated that numbers of those forgetting to wear their ID badges dropped drastically within the first few days of the installation of the program; going from 120 missing badges on the first day, to only 30 missing by the third day.
However, there are consequences for a student who chooses not to wear their ID badge, ranging from a warning upon first offense, a letter home on the second offense, to detention on the third offense and the risk of a suspension by the fifth offense.
Pitman High School senior Kelli Coffelt said the consensus around the school seems to be that students don’t mind wearing their ID badges. She does, however, wish that instead of having to wear the district issued lanyards, students could choose their own lanyards.
“From what I hear, a lot of the kids don’t mind,” said Coffelt. “I just wish we could pick our own lanyards.”
The ID badges are just one of the new security protocols included in the district's revised safety plan. Other changes to the safety plan include extending the height of locking fences from 4 feet to 6 feet and trimming landscaping to improve visibility and remove hiding areas for potential intruders. The district will also purchase signs for all school sites directing visitors to the office.
In December 2012, Turlock resident and local law enforcement officer Vince Hooper videotaped himself walking around Medeiros Elementary and pointing out the lack of security on the campus.
Hooper then worked in conjunction with the district and Turlock police and fire department personnel as part of a TUSD safety committee to help create the improved safety plan for all school sites, which was implemented this fall.