Dover Area High School students will wear mandatory ID badges when they return to classes for the 2007-08 school year, despite one board member's protests.

Last night the school board voted 8-1 to approve the 2007-08 high school student handbook, which will include the new badge policy.

Board member Heather Geesey offered the only "no" vote.

She said this morning that she doesn't support the rest of the board's viewpoint that the badges will increase safety.

"I just don't see how wearing a badge around the neck will promote safety," she said. "The two kids at Columbine had badges. The guy at Virginia Tech had a badge. Just because you're supposed to be there doesn't mean you're not the one causing trouble."

Geesey said that some "religious" people in the community will also take issue with their children wearing a badge that contains a barcode, due to the Biblical reference of "the mark of the beast."

This won't affect her, she said, because she sends her children to cyber school when they reach high
school age.

The rest of the 1,000 students in grades 9-12 will be required to wear the badges starting on the first day of the new school year, Aug. 27.

The badges are required to be worn at all times as soon as a student enters the building. The badge must be displayed somewhere between the neckline and the waist at all times while the student is in school.

Students will be given the choice of using a breakaway lanyard or a clip.


Both will be provided by the school, and students also will be permitted to use their own.

The policy follows what David Depew, assistant principal of the high school and chair of the safety committee, referred to as "Homeland Security Council recommendations."

Parent support: Before the vote, board member Judy McIlvaine revealed the results of a survey students' parents had the opportunity to take to give their opinions on the issue. The surveys were sent out a week after a May 17 community meeting held to discuss the topic.

The board received 238 valid responses to the six-question survey. For the survey's first question was: Are you in favor of students wearing badges? There were 167 "yes" responses, compared to 67 "no" answers. There were 177 "yes" and 56 "no" responses to a question on whether the use of a bar code would be appropriate.

While 148 parents responded "yes" when asked if students wearing the badges is a positive step in creating a safe school environment, 71 parents answered "no."

However, 155 responders did not agree with a proposal to levy a $10 replacement fee against parents of students who lose their badges.

"The most frequent comment was to suggest a $5 replacement fee, rather than $10," McIlvaine said. "Some said let the replacement be free the first time."

"Overall, there's a pretty strong endorsement of the badges," McIlvaine said.

The badges will be styled after the current student ID cards that are already issued by Lifetouch photography studios and will include students' names, photographs, ID numbers, the current school year and a scannable bar code.

School officials have assured residents at the meeting that no biographical or personal information will be stored on the bar code, but that information didn't sway Geesey's vote.

Geesey, the last remaining member of an earlier school board to vote in favor of intelligent design, a movement a federal judge ruled is based on Christianity, said there are a lot of people in the Dover community who simply don't approve of barcodes.

Improving security: The start-up costs of the program is estimated at $3,000. Depew has said he hopes to have the cost covered by safety grants. A $5 replacement fee will be assessed to students who lose their badges a first time. The fee is $7.50 to replace a badge a second time, and $10 for a third replacement.

The ID badges will be used as a security measure to protect against outside intruders and to identify students quickly in emergency situations. 

The badges also will be used as a disciplinary strategy to prevent unruly students from giving false names to avoid punishment; and will provide a way of quickly checking students out in the cafeteria and library by swiping cards instead of punching in PINs, school officials have said.

Staff are already required to wear ID badges at all times.

A staff person will be posted at the entrance every morning to verify that each student has a badge that correctly identifies him or her. Those students who forget their badges will be issued temporary ones for the day.

The mandatory ID badges are another step in Dover's security overhaul, which has included the installation of 26 cameras inside and outside the school, school-day lock down of all entrances and exits, and improved indoor and outdoor lighting.

-- Reach Eyana Adah McMillan at 505-5438 or emcmillan@yorkdis