- After an April shooting incident at Forest High School, Florida's Marion County Public Schools will require high-schoolers to wear provided identification badges in an effort to tighten security measures, the Ocala Star-Banner reports.
- The badge, which must be worn above the waist, is the latest measure the district is implementing in the wake of an April 20 incident in which a former student shot a student in the ankle through a classroom door. The district is also putting perimeter fencing and a school resource officer on all of its campuses.
- Marion County School Board Chairwoman Beth McCall called the district's new policy "a great idea, because then we know only students are getting onto campus,” she told the Star-Banner. “This way we know that someone without a lanyard will not be able to get inside.”
Wearing visible identification badges is commonplace among many companies and businesses as an easy way to identify employees and ensure that access to restricted areas is only granted to certain individuals. And while some districts are requiring students to wear ID badges in the wake of security threats, it remains a controversial issue that has brought pause to many school leaders. While rooted in good intentions — maximizing students' security and minimizing potential school violence incidents — some say that, in addition to the potential safety risks of a lanyard around a student's neck, it sends a dangerous message about independence and trust.
While some stakeholders continue fiercely debating this policy, schools across the country have moved to adopt it in the aftermath of events like the Parkland, Florida, shooting in February. In an age when gun violence is dominating the school safety conversation, officials have struggled to find the balance between creating a safe school that is also welcoming. Bumping up security measures including school resource officers, surveillance equipment and alarm systems can certainly give administrators a leg up in preventing or addressing school violence, but at the same time, the environment must still feel conducive to learning. When students feel they're in a harsh, prison-like space and are treated like they're in some form of an institution, they're more likely to end up in one.
As is the case with building a new school or debating new security measures, school officials should consider consulting parents, students and other community members before making a change that affects so many people in the educational space. Getting a broad range of community feedback not only ensures schools will make a more informed decision, but it also makes these populations feel as though their voices are important and valuable in the process. And as schools continue to devise new ideas in increasing the safety of their staff and students, it's important to remember, as architects and other experts say, that small, subtle changes — including those that can't be seen — can still make a big difference.