---- — IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Iowa City schools soon will begin using a new visitor identification system that's been criticized as a possible barrier to school access by minority parents.
The Iowa City Community School District has spent about $600 at each school to install the Raptor visitor management system, the Iowa City Press-Citizen said (http://icp-c.com/1b6McWb ).
District chief operating officer David Dude said the system will be activated in all district schools on Jan. 6, when students return from winter break.
The schools will require visitors to show one of several forms of ID at front offices on their first visits to schools. Office personnel will scan the IDs, thus saving the photos, birth dates and names that appear on them, and check the data against sex offender databases.
The check "happens instantly, almost," Dude said.
If someone's name does show up on a list of sex offenders, Dude said, the person wouldn't necessarily be barred. Dude said rules for parents on sex offender lists may vary, and some school administrators may require the visitors to be escorted.
Office personnel will give visitors ID badge stickers to wear and ask visitors to turn them in when they leave.
Some people criticized the system at a recent school board meeting, saying they were concerned the district list of acceptable forms of identification is limited and could raise a barrier to minority families.
Mazahir Salih, of the Center for Work Justice of Eastern Iowa, said it's already difficult for some minority families to participate in their kids' educations.
"This is really another barrier," Salih said.
The list of acceptable IDs includes state driver's licenses, Mexican consulate cards, licenses for concealed handguns, residency cards, card-style U.S. passports, and some military ID cards.
Dude said people without listed ID can request a district-issued ID at the central office. An applicant should bring some evidence of his or her identity, including an ID form not on the list or a letter from an employer.
Information from: Iowa City Press-Citizen, http://www.press-citizen.com/