A Florida school system will start running automatic sexual predator checks on volunteers and campus visitors.
COCOA BEACH, Fla. — A new security system in Brevard Public Schools will run an automatic sexual predator check when volunteers and visitors sign in on campus.
Individuals will scan their driver's license, and new KeepnTrack software will run a check through a sexual predator database from all 50 states.
"I love it," said Robert Arthur Sr., a parent of three at Saturn Elementary in Cocoa. "I can't come up with a better word. Our children shouldn't be within 1,000 miles of someone like that, let alone on the same property."
Before, no background check was done on visitors, such as a parent or family friend attending a school event.
"We're a very transient state," Saturn Elementary Principal Michael Miller said. "I feel a lot more secure knowing that they can check all 50 states."
If the system flags someone as a potential sexual predator, the principal and school resource officer will be called to assess the situation.
There's a chance someone with a common name — say, John Smith — could have a false positive. And that's where photo identification comes in.
School staff will see a picture of the sexual predator, and be able to compare it to the person checking in, said Michelle Irwin, school district spokeswoman.
Before, visitors were asked to register but it was operated on the honor system. Not everyone took it seriously. Occasionally, they'd enter fake names like "Bud Wiser," or "Mickey Mouse."
In addition, the system increases the frequency of criminal background checks for "Level A" volunteers, or those who help supervise students without staff present, such as administering a test or helping tutor.
Volunteers will now pay $20 for a criminal check every three years, which alerts the school to any prior arrests. Before it cost $47, and the check was done every five years.
"A lot can happen in five years," Irwin said.
The system also will help the district track volunteer hours.
The new system cost $136,000, which includes the software and license scanner for district schools.
An annual fee will cost $350 per school, which district leaders believe will be offset by the $20 volunteer fee.
"Our hope is for it to be self-sufficient," Irwin said.