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Posted Oct 19, 2010, 11:14 am
Prescott High School this year ordered all 1,850 of its students to wear identification badges at all times when on campus.
It just didn't say how.
A few students taped them to their foreheads or made them into T-shirts and placards to protest the new policy. Others put them on customized lanyards featuring everything from sports teams to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. One student hung his ID through the hole in his stretched earlobe.
"It was a very big deal at first," said freshman Cassidy Peeples, who added her student council pin and metallic charms to her ID. She said for many girls, the biggest complaint is that the badges clash with their personal styles.
"It's just not fashionable," she said.
Vice Principal Deb Salcedo said she understands the student – and faculty – complaints about fashion but said the badges address the school's No. 1 concern: safety.
"I think it's a school's job to protect students in the least intrusive manner," said Salcedo, who said she has no problems with the creative ways some students wear their IDs.
"This is a small town, but it's a big school," Salcedo said, adding that few parents have complained about the policy.
The requirement here is part of a national trend toward visible identification cards as a way to address increasing concerns about school safety and security.
In Tucson, Tucson Unified School District and Salpointe Catholic High School are among those that require secondary students to wear ID cards on campus.
In Arizona, high schools in the Mesa and Peoria unified school districts are among others with the requirement.
Amy Rezzonico, press secretary for the Arizona Department of Education, said the state has no data on identification policies because the decision is made at the district level.
Some schools in Texas have started using tracking devices in ID badges to monitor students' whereabouts.
In Prescott, the new requirement is part of comprehensive security improvements put in place as the district seeks accreditation by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
Other planned changes include eventually moving to a modified closed campus structure, which would keep underclassmen on campus for lunch, and building a fence around much of the school grounds.
Salcedo said that in the past school employees have caught students on campus who've graduated, dropped out or moved away. She said the IDs will help determine who belongs there.
"I'm new, the other assistant principal is new, and we have 18 new teachers. It's almost impossible for them to get to know everyone without them [the badges]," Salcedo said.
Sophomore Levi Rosdahl agrees that the new ID policy has improved security.
"I've seen kids who've moved away, who've come in for lunch in the past, and since they've implemented the badges, I haven't seen them," Rosdahl said. "So it's been effective in what they wanted to do."
The policy has had an impact off campus too. Bus drivers can quickly determine who belongs and who doesn't. So can the school's neighbors.
"Some of our community members have complained about our kids coming over and littering, loitering, vandalizing things," said Principal Totsy McCraley. "This allows them to know whether it's one of our students. It's not always the case; it could be community college kids or ones from other high schools."
Paula Walsh, whose son is a sophomore, said she considers wearing ID badges a good idea but thinks there's more the school can do to enhance security.
"I'd personally prefer that they'd lock the school when it's in session, rather than just have IDs," she said. "Our world changed after Columbine."