Muirlands Middle School acquires new security system: ID stickers will change check-in process

Before the end of the school year (June 13), Muirlands Middle School will have a new safety protocol in place that changes the way guests are allowed on campus. Announced at the May 17 La Jolla Cluster Association meeting, the school purchased a new check-in system that will soon be up and running.

The system requires those who want school access beyond the front office to wear a visitor’s sticker. The sticker will be issued only after visitors check into the office with a government-issued piece of identification. Their ID will be scanned to produce the sticker that will include the person’s name, photo, destination, date and time.

The system’s acquisition was spearheaded by Muirlands parent Jessica Hughes.

“I looked into this because I was concerned about safety at the school,” she said at the meeting. “This system is widely used across the country. When the person’s ID is scanned, it gets checked against a customizable database for sex offenders, restraining orders or custody alerts, etc. A notification pops up and there is a protocol to follow from there. I’ve heard other schools also use it for checking in kids who are coming in late or leaving early, and have it be their pass. The main thing is security.”

During a La Jolla Light interview, Hughes added that she hails from the East Coast where “every (school) visitor was thoroughly screened ... when we moved here, it was shocking to me that you could just walk right onto a school campus. It’s just one of those things I always said I wanted to do something about and didn’t really have time until this year.”

Hughes said the cost is $1,600 for the first year and $540 annually after that. Funding has been identified for the installation and first year.

Principal Harlan Klein added: “Muirlands is specifically interested in using it for, in the event of an emergency, having a quick up-to-date record of everyone on campus. A secondary thing is knowing any stipulations that we would need to be aware of ... court mandates and/or custody issues. With this screening, administrators would be immediately alerted to any issue. I think it’s a nice additional layer of security.”

One thing that may be new to parents is that they’re supposed to check out with the same system, to keep the record up-to-date of who is on campus at any given time. “We know some people aren’t going to check out, so office staff will need to clear out the daily record,” Hughes said. Once an ID is scanned, the name and photo are in the system. If someone forgets their ID on another visit, they can state their name and have it checked against the system photo.

In other Cluster news:

Later start times: San Diego Unified School District board trustee Mike McQuary said the board passed a resolution to support “healthy start times for all high school students,” which he said came from “a lot of work from a lot of people over a long period of time.” The La Jolla Cluster has been advocating for having school start later for several years, but recognized the challenge when it comes to rearranging bus and athletic schedules.

“Instead of having a single solution across the district, we believe it needs to be worked out cluster by cluster, school by school,” McQuary said, noting principals with their stakeholders will decide when schools should start and how to implement it.

Part of the SDUSD board resolution states: “Planning for Healthy Start Times (shall) be completed during the 2018-19 school year so that first period online course options for high school students will be offered to as many students as possible in the 2019-20 school year. Because the above will not provide benefit equally to all students, especially those who must travel by bus, that by 2020-21 the agreed upon Healthy Start Times shall be implemented at all SDUSD high schools.”

Muirlands principal search: Over the summer, the quest will continue for a new Muirlands principal. Outgoing principal Klein departs at the end of the school year, and will move to The Bishop’s School as Head of Middle School. Area superintendent Mitzi Merino explained the job was posted online in April and no viable candidate was found. The job was reposted May 1-10 and the first round of interviews began May 21.

Bird Rock principal status: When asked about Bird Rock Elementary School leadership, Merino said “there is no new information” and “as soon as HR makes information available to me, I will communicate it to the Bird Rock community.” Principal Amanda Hale has been taking time off since February following parent allegations of misconduct. Chris Hargrave has been serving as interim principal, and it is unclear whether Hale will return to the post.

— La Jolla Cluster Association next meets in September, at a date to be determined.