Student Badges Under Fire On Campus

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The photo identification badges worn by Payson High School students have come under fire and will be re-evaluated at the end of the school year, Principal Sue Myers said.

The subject was discussed at a recent PHS faculty meeting, with most of those in attendance in favor of doing away with the badges.

"There is a huge issue about the badges," Myers said. "Many of the kids resent wearing them; the teachers already have a full-time job just teaching and this is one more thing to check."

The badges, which must be worn by teachers as well as students, were instituted at the beginning of the school year to enhance campus security.

"Columbine and Paducah, Kentucky made that an issue," Payson Unified School District Superintendent Herb Weissenfels said. "Columbine didn't directly impact the badges, but one of the great concerns was unknown people on campus."

Weissenfels, one of the few who favors keeping the badges, said they do work.

"At least that way if the student has a badge, the teacher knows they belong there, and the unknown person then can be more readily identified should that ever happen," he said. "And we've had a couple cases where unidentified persons have come onto campus for reasons other than what we would stand for and they've been identified quickly and nothing transpired."

Myers agreed that security is important, but questions whether the badges enhance security enough to make them worth the hassle.

"(Security) is an issue that people are concerned about, and in this day and age safety on school campuses is paramount," she said. "We want to know that our kids are safe, but we know that any crazy could walk in here and no badges could stop that."

Many students trade badges among one another and otherwise try to circumvent the system. According to one student, freshman Cade Connolly, it's because they don't see their value.

"They said it helps us for protection, but it just tells us what our names are," he said. "It doesn't do a thing for protection. They might as well just issue us name tags."

The badges were instituted after an extensive discussion about closing the PHS campus last year, a step that was deemed too expensive to implement, in part because of the sprawling nature of the campus.

"A lot of people don't want that to happen, and it would be difficult because we can only feed 150 at this time," she said.

While security was discussed in some detail at the faculty meeting, Myers said other issues were discussed at the meeting as well.

"It was part of the discussion, but we also talked about cracking down on tardies, on getting your assignments done, because we want this last nine weeks to be rigorous and spent on studies," she said.

"We also talked about testing strategies and making sure the students are primed, and that we want all the students here, etc. etc."

The PHS faculty was scheduled to take up the subject of campus security again at an inservice meeting scheduled for today (April 6). Weissenfels said many other high schools require badges, while some take more severe security measures including metal detectors, but that Myers can discontinue the badges without board approval.

He also said that school districts are required to do everything possible to provide a safe and secure environment for both students and employees.

"Here in Payson, we get to be very complacent," he said. "We feel like we're fairly safe and secure, so with that kind of feeling it becomes a nuisance. What good are the badges? Maybe the good is that nothing has happened yet."

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