Knox Co. schools discuss new identification system to screen visitors

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – The Knox County school board of education is talking about adding another layer of security to its schools.

The installation of a new Visitor Management System was up for discussion at Wednesday’s Board of Education work session. If approved, it would be a system-wide implementation, meaning every Knox County school.

The new system is supposed to check visitors coming on to those campuses, screening for registered sex offenders or anyone issued a no-trespassing letter.

“I think the safer the better. Anytime we can add an additional layer of security to our school systems, I think it’s a great thing,” said moms Kara LaRue and Samantha LaRue.

“It will help us keep folks that belong on our campuses engaged in our students, and it will help keep people that cannot come onto campus off our campuses,” said Knox County Schools Chief of Security, Gus Paidousis.

Paidousis explained before the board how the system and its vendor would operate. Visitors log in and get a badge with their name, current photo, date, time and purpose for visiting, he said.

“One of the things that the vendor will provide is a daily update of the Tennessee and the National Sex Offender registry, so if you come into your school and you register and you’re a member of the sex offender registry, it will immediately identify you as such, and then there will be protocols in place to address those kinds of issues,” Paidousis said on the podium.

The new tool would be funded through a grant, with the contract totaling a little less than $110,000.

It’s a way to meet a concern expressed by some of the school’s top leaders.

“About a third to a half of our principals indicated that a visitor management system was a high priority,” said Paidousis. “It tracks people who come on to our campuses and it’s one more thing to help you be certain that the people coming on to your campuses which contain your children are the right people.”

The Chief of Security explained other ways this system can be used. They’ll be able to track the time contractors or vendors are on campus, giving them an idea of the traffic coming in or out of each school.

This is still up for a vote at next week’s board meeting.

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