SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. – At Hagerty High School, all students started the 2019-20 school year with a new mandatory accessory: an ID badge with their school picture, their student number and a bar code.
It is part of a new pilot program the Seminole County Public School District is trying at Paul J. Hagerty High School. News 6 checked and right now, Hagerty is the first Central Florida high school to implement the new measure and put it into action on the first day of school.
On Aug. 16, parents and guardians of Hagerty students got this letter from the principal, explaining the pilot program and why students need to wear their student ID badges during the school day.
"I think it's a great idea," said Latoya Ives, a parent of a freshman at Hagerty High School. "I think it's a good safety precaution for the students, and I think it ultimately helps us parents feel safe. And also help the students to feel like there's some safety as well."
"I love feeling safer at school," her daughter, Lily Ives, said.
The SCPS District is also implementing school ID badges at three of its middle schools: Markham Woods Middle School in Lake Mary, South Seminole Academy in Casselberry and Teague Middle School in Altamonte Springs.
So how do upperclassmen feel about the new mandatory requirement?
"It hasn't been too bad," said Peyton, a senior at Hagerty High. "I mean, I just put mine in my backpack, so I never forget it."
But if a student does forget or refuses to wear it, there are consequences. Students will face detention if they forget their badges more than once. The first time they get sent to the office for a name tag and a late slip. The second time will result in a late slip and detention. Students said the school administration did provide a grace period during the first week of school.
"A lot of people complain about them," Peyton said. "A couple of friends have forgotten them, but then after they forget them once, they usually wear them the next time. I mean it's fair because you're supposed to wear it. But I mean, if you're tardy and you forget it on the one day, then the next day you can't forget it. Otherwise, you're penalized."
"You get detentions for, like, big things, but a lanyard seems like not such a big deal," said Lily Ives, a Hagerty freshman.
"Kids will lose them, they will forget them," said Celeste Donohue, whose granddaughter transferred from Pinellas County Schools over the summer and now attends Hagerty as a freshman.
The Seminole County Sheriff's Office sent this statement to News 6 from Capt. Rick Francis, safety and security director for SCPS:
"Today's society demands a safe, secure learning environment for all students and faculty for K-12 schools. Our School Safety Division continues to seek other options to help keep our students and schools safe. For the 2019-20 school year, we are piloting student IDs in several secondary schools."
Francis listed the following benefits of student ID badges:
- Overall, students having ID badges contributes to the overall safety and security of the campus.
- IDs can foster personal connection by encouraging students and staff to learn names, build self-esteem and keeps students from being "invisible."
- IDs can streamline day-to-day operation by providing quick access to amenities offered within the school's digital platform.
- The ID helps us have a current photo of the student if we need one for any school-related safety reason.
According to Francis, the student ID badges can also help reunite students with their parents should any emergency arise.
Victoria McCray and her sixth grade daughter, Zaira, are new to the district, and just enrolled at Markham Woods Middle School. Both said they are all for the ID badges.
"It's a necessary measure," McCray said.
"When we enter the school, they check our IDs, to make sure we are supposed to be on this campus," said Zaira. "I love the new ID badges. I can't wait to get our pictures on it. It's safer for us."
Right now, the badges Markham Woods handed out to their students are temporary, displaying only their names on a piece of paper with the school logo. But soon, they, too, will have pictures and bar codes, just like the ones used at Hagerty High School.
News 6 checked with all 10 Central Florida public school districts.
Volusia County Schools also started this school year with all of their middle and high school students being required to wear their lanyard/student ID badges.
Marion County Public School officials said the district will also issue mandatory ID badges at the seven high schools in the next few weeks, and that each badge will have a color-coded lanyard matching the high schools' colors.
Marion County Public Schools Spokesperson Kevin Christian said if students forget their ID, a back-up badge will be available in the front office of their high school. Christian says after that students must pay for each additional badge.
Lake County Schools will also be using ID badges at their high schools and middle schools too. But the middle schools will get special lanyards that will have a hotline students can call if they are feeling bullied or suicidal. The district sent a news release to parents last month, explaining how the lanyards with the SpeakOut Hotline will be used on all their student IDs in all their middle schools. District Spokesperson Sherri Owens says they were gifted enough lanyards for the middle schools only, but plan to have ID badges for all middle school and high school students sometime this year, but that the high schools won't have the same lanyards as the middle schools. Owens said they plan to expand visible IDs to elementary schools at a later time.
Brevard County Public School officials said some of their secondary schools use ID badges, and some don't, but that it is not a district mandate.
Dana Schafer, from Osceola County Public Schools, said student ID badges are done at most if not all the high schools in Osceola County. Schaffer said many middle schools also do them, but it is up to the individual school.
Flagler County Schools spokesperson Jason Wheeler said the district has been using student IDs at it's two high schools and two middle schools for the past five years. Wheeler says those badges must be worn above the waist.
Sumter County Schools also confirms they use ID badges and that the badges enable their schools to scan students getting on and off the bus, scan them in line in the cafeterias, and scan students and their accounts at library checkout time. The district confirms they provide them with lanyards and require students to have the IDs with them at all times while on campus during the school day.
Only the Orange County Public Schools district does not have a policy requiring students to wear ID badges.
Ever since the Feb. 14, 2018, mass shooting at Florida's Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, where 17 people were killed and 17 others were injured, administrators and parents have been searching for ways to make schools safer.
Police and deputies are now on campus, and locked doors and mandatory code red drills are becoming the norm at schools across Central Florida.
Seminole County Public Schools has this YouTube video on its website to teach parents, students and staff what to do should an emergency happen during school. And just like all the teachers and workers at their school, students are now getting used to ID badges.
"It makes me feel a little bit better in case someone does come on campus," Peyton said. "So I kind of like having it around."