2 Fargo schools testing visitor check-in system that screens for sex offenders

The pilot program at the two schools is meant to determine if the system fits the district’s security needs.

102219.N.FF.SCHOOLBOARD Lewis and Clark Elementary School is seen Wednesday, Oct. 23, at 1729 16th St. S., Fargo.
Lewis & Clark Elementary School in Fargo. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

FARGO — Under a new pilot program that aims to boost security, two Fargo elementary schools have begun checking each visitor to see if they're a registered sex offender.

The system from Texas-based Raptor Technologies was installed mid-February at Lewis & Clark and Lincoln elementary schools, said AnnMarie Campbell, a spokeswoman for Fargo Public Schools.

Visitors must provide identification, such as a driver’s license, that's scanned by the system which checks the sex offender registries of all 50 states and also checks a custom school district database that includes child custody alerts and other unwanted or banned individuals.

Once a visitor is cleared, the system prints a badge that includes the visitor’s photograph, name, date of entry and destination.

Campbell said the pilot program at the two elementary schools is meant to determine if the system fits the district’s security needs. “If an individual that is not allowed to be there tries to check in at the front office, staff would ask them to leave. If that request is not adhered to, the police would be called,” Campbell said.


About 35,000 schools across the country use the system, Ida Yenney of Raptor Technologies said in a press release. The starting price for the system is $595 a year, according to the company’s website.

Yenney said the system produces results quickly after an ID is scanned. "Within a few seconds, it pops up, and it will flag whether or not that person is on the list," she said.

The Fargo Public Schools emergency management team has been working on upgrading the visitor system with the goal of getting rid of the paper sign-in process and providing added security for students and staff, wrote Blake Mikesell, director of district maintenance and operations, in a recent newsletter.

Contractors and maintenance crews will also use the new system to check in, Mikesell said.

"After the tests at Lincoln and Lewis & Clark are complete, we will measure the reliability, speed and effectiveness of the system. If those results are satisfactory, the goal is to roll out this technology to all the schools in the district, pending funding," Mikesell wrote.

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