Federal Court Rules on School Visitor Management System Suit

Posted by on September 20, 2010

Does requiring parents and other visitors to provide personal identification to determine whether they are registered sex offenders violate the visitors’ constitutional rights?  According to the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, in affirming a decision of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, the answer is, “No.”

Plaintiffs-Appellants Larry and Yvonne Meadows challenged the Raptor Visitor Management System and its implementation by the Lake Travis Independent School District in Texas.  As parents, the Meadowses claimed requiring Mrs. Meadows to provide a state-issued photo ID as a condition of entering secure areas where students were present violated constitutional rights to speech, assembly, association, freedom from unreasonable search or seizure, privacy, procedural due process, substantive due process, and various aspects of state law.

The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the school district and assessed costs against the Meadowses.  The Court of Appeals issued a ruling on September 8, 2010, upholding the decision of the district court.

The Court of Appeals ruled that the parents were not denied the ability to make fundamental decisions about their children’s education.  The Court held the school district, “…has a compelling interest in determining, inter alia, whether a potential visitor to its school is a registered sex offender.  The regulation is narrowly tailored because Raptor takes only the minimum information necessary to determine sex-offender status, identify the visitor, and ensure the lack of false positives.”

The Court further ruled that Fourth Amendment claims of unreasonable search and seizure also failed.  “Even if this were to be construed as a search or a seizure, we would hold it to be a reasonable one,” the Court concluded.

“This court case is just one example of the struggle school districts encounter when it comes to providing the best security for children. The Fifth Circuit Court’s ruling helps define the rights of the schools to control their environment,” said Allan Measom, President and CEO of Raptor Technologies, based in Houston, Texas. 

Raptor is a widely used provider of school visitor management systems which screens visitors for registered sex offender status in their client schools throughout the United States.

“We are pleased with the Court’s ruling,” said LTISD Deputy Superintendent and General Counsel Susan Bohn in a written statement on the ruling. “Throughout the long process of defending our position, we believed—as the Court did—that the Raptor system is a reasonable tool that works to ensure the children of our District are safe at school. Because campus safety and security are our highest priorities, we will continue to take measured and appropriate steps to protect our students, staff, volunteers, and visitors.”

The school district prevailed in a Texas court on a related state lawsuit, according to its written statement, and is awaiting the decision of a state appeals court on that case.

Ken Trump

Visit School Security Blog at:  http://www.schoolsecurityblog.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *