Federal Suit Could Affect LISD Security System - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

12/2/08

Federal Suit Could Affect LISD Security System

An Austin couple says a school security system violates their rights. Now, they've filed a federal lawsuit that could affect the Lubbock Independent School District.  The suit deals with a system called Raptor's V-soft. Several LISD Elementary Schools have it, and school leaders expect all will eventually be equipped.

It scans your driver license and identifies registered sex offenders, but the Austin lawsuit claims it's a violation of constitutional rights.  "We're going to err, if err at all, for the safety of the children, but we don't think it's an error. We think it's a necessary step," LISD Director of Police & Safety Service Thomas Nichols said. 

The district says they've never had any complaints about the Raptor system.  "We've never had one complaint. To my knowledge we've only had one hit," Thomas said.  LISD's School for Young Women Leaders is just one of the schools where visitors are scanned by Raptor.  "No complaints what so ever, actually you get many more positive comments," Principal Kim Perry said. 

Perry showed NewsChannel 11 how the system works. You simply provide your state drivers license for the scan, and in just a few seconds the system checks state databases to see if you're a registered sex offender.  "It gives parents just another level of comfort, knowing that their daughters are here in a very safe place," says Perry. 

Those who refuse the scan are not allowed in school, but registered sex offenders with children in school can visit.  "Every parent, baring a very few circumstances, will have a right to some educational access to their children," Nichols said.  Parents identified as sex offenders will be escorted through the school at all times by a certified staff member.  "That registered sex offender case may be 10, 12, 15 years old and the person's led a stellar life ever since then, still our obligation is to the children," Nichols said. 

The lawsuit, filed against the Lake Travis School District, claims the system violates a parent's right to associate with their children at school and freedom from unreasonable search and seizure. The parents who filed the suit are not registered in the national sex offender database, but they say they're concerned about identity theft and a private company collecting their personal information.  "I think the concerns are truly minimal," Nichols said. 

He tells NewsChannel 11 LISD's system only collects your full name, date of birth, a picture, and a partial driver license number. Like it or not, he predicts schools all across the country will be equipped with similar system in the future.  "I have no doubt it will at least be at elementary campuses," Nichols said. 

Raptor performs background checks for about 5,000 schools across the country, and according to the company's web site, the system has been credited for the arrest of several absconded offenders that cross state lines.  We'll let you know what happens with the suit.

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