School visitors screened in front office
In one Texas school district, visitors are required to submit identification for a background check before being allowed access to secure areas such as hallways and classrooms. The Lake Travis Independent School District adopted the policy after a sex offender entered one of its schools and exposed himself to a child.
The policy requires visitors to show a state identification card or driver’s license. Then a school staff member checks the information against all U.S. sex offender databases.
Parents of one student opposed the new policy arguing that it infringed on their fundamental right to raise and educate their child and that it constituted an unreasonable search in violation of the Fourth Amendment. What do you think? Is requiring identification of school visitors followed by an Internet check an intrusive act? Should it be allowed in the interest of student safety?
The policy was upheld in 2009 by a federal district court whose decision was appealed. In September, 2010, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals* in New Orleans unanimously upheld the policy. Recognizing a parent’s right to direct their children’s education, that right doesn’t extend to visiting all areas of a school. The court held that the school has a compelling interest in determining whether school visitors are sex offenders.
*Meadows v. Lake Travis Independent School District [5th Cir.Ct.App. 2010].