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ID badges

Muscatine High School freshmen Austin Harris, left, and Adam DeVore, tackle a math problem in Sarah Wilson’s Enhanced Algebra I g2 class. By the end of September, MHS students will be required to wear photo identification tags to enhance school security. Photo: Cynthia Beaudette/Muscatine Journal

MUSCATINE, Iowa — By the end of September, Muscatine High School’s approximately 1,650 students will be required to wear photo ID badges for the first time in the school’s history.

MHS principal Robert Weaton said photo identification tags on breakaway lanyards will be issued to each student as a safety measure.

The IDs will also have other benefits. The magnetic strips on the badges can be swiped to check out library materials and buy lunches, as opposed to having that information manually inputted, which takes more time.

“A lot of kids, like me, have debit cards, and we’re used to using them,” said MHS junior Rebecca Hogan, 16. “This will be like using a debit card.”

Junior Brayton Shelladay  agreed.

“Scanning is quicker,” he said. “I won’t mind carrying a badge at all.”

But convenience isn’t the primary reason for the new devices.

Weaton said area law-enforcement officials were surprised to learn that students at a school the size of MHS weren’t wearing ID badges.

“Burlington, Davenport West and Central high schools, Pleasant Valley and North Scott have all required identification tags for the past several years,” said Weaton.

Junior Abby Lang said she understands the reasoning behind the badges.

“It will help keep track of whose who’s in the building,” she said. “I don’t have a problem with that.”

The tags enhance safety, said Weaton, by helping staff identify people who are supposed to be in the building, and those who aren’t.

Junior Ali Failor said she’s not sure the badges can prevent some forms of  violence.

“If someone wanted to get into the school, they would find a way,” she said.

Sophomore Mitchell Ganzley said MHS officials probably don’t need to worry about violence.

“I’m perfectly fine with the way the school is now,” said Ganzley. “I think it will be annoying to have something around your neck all the time. But I’ll get used to it after the first week or two.

The lanyards will be color coded with freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors wearing different colors to help staff identify if a student should be going off-campus, such as those who go to classes at MCC or the Ag Learning Center.

The breakaway aspect of the lanyards will also prevent people from grabbing it and possibly choking people.

Failor said the badges probably won’t be considered a fashion accessory.

“I don’t dress up most days, but I can understand why some girls might mind it when it doesn’t coordinate with their clothes,” she said.

More safety

Weaton said other safety measures at the school include the hiring of a security guard in December 2010, to assist the school’s resource officer  in watching the halls and grounds.

The school has more than 20 doors, and all but the main front and back entrances are locked during school hours, said Weaton.

People entering MHS are required to stop at the main desk and register to receive a pass which they can display for staff and security officials.

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