As a former Altoona Area School District Board member, I am compelled to express my concern and perspective with respect to the position current school board members have taken regarding the school district's visitor policy.
It is upsetting to think that any school board member would exempt themselves from basic safety precautions like signing-in at a school when visiting. In fact, from a board member's perspective, those very basic security measures should be emphasized and not minimized. It is the school district's responsibility to ensure the safety and welfare of the students, faculty and staff as well as all visitors that might be on school property where children are entrusted to our safety.
Creating special exemptions to policies raises a multitude of "what if" scenarios.
For example, what if an emergency situation or an evacuation were to occur, how can we account for all those in the building if a visitor has not registered?
District employees are required to sign in at a school when visiting if that employee is not assigned to that school. Should a school board member be exempt from basic safety measures merely because they are a board member? And, if so, for what purpose?
According to the Pennsylvania School Boards Association code of conduct, an individual is only a school Board member when he/she is at a school board meeting or school board function.
When a school board member is not at a meeting or function, he/she is a citizen and citizens do not have the right to enter a school without permission or without registration.
The role of a school board is to govern the school district as a collective unit. From time to time, individual members of the board do visit schools for specific purposes. No problem. But, what is so urgent or covert to suggest they should bypass a basic protocol of advising security or administration upon entering a school?
Bottom line: Sign in when visiting. It takes two minutes. Let's focus on the real issues.
Barry W. Wright