Just Say No

High school officials catch a drug dealer and experience unexpected benefits of ID cards

Administrators at Haltom High School in Haltom City, Texas, wanted their school’s ID cards to be useful, but never did they imagine the cards would help thwart a drug dealer.

“We have used student and faculty ID cards for the last decade,” said Rick Mauderer, associate principal at Haltom High School and the person responsible for the school’s ID program. “As a high school of more than 2,600 students, there is no way we can know who every student is, especially with substitute teachers in the building, so we require that all students possess and wear a proper, non-defaced school ID on a lanyard around their neck.”

A Hidden Threat
With the ebb and flow of new students, teachers make monthly ID compliance sweeps to ensure that every student in each room has a proper ID. Students without identification are sent to the office for a duplicate, at a cost of $5 per card. The sweeps also help to ensure that each person in the school actually belongs there.

“We sometimes make 200 IDs on a sweep day,” Mauderer said. “One day in October, we had just performed an ID sweep, and I was in the cafeteria, enjoying seeing all of the cards on lanyards visible on the students. I spotted a student without an ID card, and he said he had lost it. When I asked for the name of his home room teacher, he said he couldn’t remember. I decided to take him to the office to look up his schedule, at which time he darted out the front door of the building. Fortunately, security cameras captured his photo, which I e-mailed to other high schools in the area. When he was found and searched, he was carrying several small packages of drugs, ready for sale.”

In 1999, the school began printing ID cards in-house to save time and money.

“Card production used to be a laborious, multi-step process with photos cut and pasted to tagboard and then laminated,” Mauderer said. “It was a five-person process and presented a huge log jam at registration. Now it only takes one person in Student Services. In addition, the quality went up, and we were able to add a bar code to include private information for students and faculty.”

Mauderer now uses a Fargo DTC500 series direct-to-card printer/encoder to produce the cards.

“At first, we leased extra printers from a supplier during our busiest time, which is registration,” he said. “The Fargo printers he brought in were much faster than the printers we owned, so we just decided to buy Fargo equipment.”

A Versatile Solution
Bill Davis of A Photo ID Inc., a Fargo solutions provider, knew how flexible the cards’ uses needed to be.

“Rick wanted to produce cards that serve multiple purposes. In addition to providing visual identification, they are used in the library, in the cafeteria and for athletic events. They also are checked by school van and bus drivers before students are allowed to ride,” he said.

ID cards are used by faculty, students and administrators. The back of the card is printed in advance with useful information, such as the school’s daily schedule and frequently called phone numbers. For faculty, that includes counselor numbers with an alphabetical breakdown of student names, as well as numbers for a substitute teacher resource. For students, it includes numbers for the nurse’s office, the associate principals and the attendance office, as well as a few policy reminders. Administrator cards include home and cell phone numbers for key staff.

The school also uses ID cards to help with the problem of students skipping first and seventh periods. The cards include the teachers’ names for those blocks of time.

“We tell the students if their schedule changes, the school will replace the card, but if they change their schedule because they don’t like their teacher, it will cost them $5,” Mauderer said.

No Way Out
Students are notoriously hard on their possessions, so Mauderer likes the durability of the ID cards the school is using now.

“Students used to pull their old cards apart,” he said. “And if the cards went through the laundry, they were of no use to anyone. PVC cards are virtually indestructible.”

Students, however, still find creative ways to avoid wearing the cards. Common excuses, according to Mauderer, include bogus neck allergies to the lanyard and perceived religious restrictions. Cards also end up with moustaches or glasses added for flair, or a student will paste a photo of his girlfriend on the card. None of these activities gets a good grade with Mauderer.

Mauderer said the school usually makes three or four replacement cards every day. Students pay $5 initially for each card and an additional charge if the card needs to be replaced because it was lost, damaged or defaced.

“It’s against the law to have a fraudulent ID in real life,” Mauderer said. “The same holds true here. Students with no identification receive an in-school suspension, because administrators believe they pose a security risk. Since the ID card program was implemented, in-school suspensions also have gone down substantially.”

A System that Works
Davis said he has noticed a trend toward more middle schools using ID cards, as well as schools using databases to export data to PDAs. This enables administrators to remotely pull up data on students from other areas of the school.

Haltom High School has found an additional, creative way to use its ID cards.

“We have a significant problem with students who can’t seem to get out of ninth grade,” Mauderer said.

The school prints its ID cards in five different colors: green for freshmen, blue for sophomores, orange for juniors and black for seniors. Older ninth graders, most of whom are boys, get pink.

“They don’t like that,” he said. “It actually motivates them to get out of ninth grade sooner.”

Mauderer said he has realized that students get in trouble when they don’t know expectations.

“We have a system in place that works,” Mauderer said. “We’re aggressive about it. It’s part of our work ethic.” And on that day back in October, it kept students of Haltom High School safe from a potential drug dealer, proving the system’s effectiveness to administrators and students alike..

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