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Fort Zumwalt Board Debates ID Enforcement

Board agrees to review policy of mandatory ID displaying by students.

The ID requirements at schools may be changing, but it won't be this school year.

Fort Zumwalt high schools have placed an emphasis this school year on enforcing student ID regulations. Students are required to display identification at all times. Faculty at the five high schools have been instructed to increase enforcement on students violating the policy. Four times this year, the schools have done a spot check to track the number of students following the policy. 

At Monday's Board of Education meeting, the five principals shared the result of the first few months of the school year. Across the district, discipline because of ID violations is on the rise. 

Board member Laure Schmidt proposed an immediate change to district policy. Schmidt said students should be required to carry identification and must be able to produce the ID on request. If a student fails to do so, the student would face discipline. 

"All this time is being spent checking ID badges, and it has nothing to do with education," she said. 

Schmidt said multiple teachers have expressed a dissatisfaction with the policy. 

"I have teachers coming up to me and their exact words are, 'You've got to help us," Schmidt said. 

The rest of the Board, led by president Michael Price, was reluctant to enact an immediate change. Price said that the Board always renews policies during the summer months so it has more time to process the information. He said Schmidt’s plan sounded fine, but he wasn’t sure if the timing was right.

“It sounds great, but I can't absorb it all in 15 to 20 minutes,” he said.

Price requested Schmidt withdraw her motion and then table the item so it can be discussed more in depth at a later date. Schmidt agreed and pulled back her motion. The Board agreed to review the policy at a later meeting. 

The five principals in attendance spoke frankly about the police. Hope High School reported around a 64- to 66-percent compliance from the student population. A big reason for the policy was to protect students. If everyone has an ID on, people who don’t belong are easier to spot. Hope principal Kim Bertram said that with her small school, she knows every student by name so the security factor of the ID isn’t as big of a factor.

principal Henry St. Pierre said he has about 75- to 82- percent of students participating during the spot checks. He said his school has daily morning reminders to students to wear the ID badges. 

principal Kevin Keltner has seen his numbers steadily decrease during the four tests. He said about 63 percent were following the rules, meaning that despite the continual reminders, about 400 students were ID less. 

"It's a difficult thing to manage,” Keltner said. 

One of the reasons for the enforcement was supposed to help relationships with students. Keltner said that hasn’t been the case. Keltner said he once saw a student while he was out grocery shopping. After noticing Keltner, the student reached for her purse to find her ID. 

“I've yet to build a relationship with a student because of their ID badge,” he said. 

Over at West, principal Neil Berry requires all students to show ID to enter the building. So at the start of the day, every student is compliant, but Berry said the numbers drop throughout the day. Berry said discipline numbers are on the rise. After 156 ID referrals last year, 811 students have been sent to the office already this year. The school has issues 626 warnings, meaning about 30 percent of all students have been warned. He said the school is spending a lot of time enforcing the policy. 

North High School has had the most success, thanks to a little bribery by principal Joe Sutton. On the first day of the test, Sutton made an all-call announcement for teachers to begin the test. The all-call made the students rush to comply, and the first test resulted in 99 percent participation. Based on the initial success, Sutton told students they could use cell phones in the cafeteria if the numbers stayed above 90 percent. The second check had 94 percent of students wearing badges. The next two checks had the numbers dip below the 90-percent mark, but still sitting in the 80s. 

Election Looms For School Board

The filing period to fill two spots on the Board begins at 8 a.m. on Dec. 13 and ends at 5 p.m. on Jan. 17. Vice president Barbara Story and member Mike MacCormack are up for re-election. Because of a change in the classification of the school, the candidates will be running for a six-year term instead of the current three-year term. With O’Fallon’s population on the rise, Fort Zumwalt is considered an urban school district and Missouri requires six-year terms.

That, however, may change before the April election. Missouri Senator Scott Rupp (R-Wentzville) is sponsoring a bill to allow school districts to decide how long the terms should be. The consensus at Monday’s meeting was that Fort Zumwalt would prefer a three-year term.

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