What was created to be a means to protect the safety and security of students in the Sedalia School District 200 appears to have created confusion and concern among some on social media.
On the first day of classes Tuesday, students in grades six through 12 were photographed and issued student ID badges. The decision to issue the badges was made following an active shooter training exercise at Smith-Cotton Junior High on July 23, according to Smith-Cotton High School Principal Wade Norton, SCJH Principal Jason Curry and district administrators.
“There was a lot of discussion after the active shooter response training that was held here at SCJH on July 23 that led the high school to start their card system,” Curry told the Democrat Wednesday afternoon. “Through conversation with high school and central office administration, it was apparent that this system would be invaluable at the junior high as well.
“Students and staff are all displaying photo ID cards on the junior high campus and, in fact, all staff across the Sedalia 200 District are wearing photo ID cards in an effort to provide an added layer of security,” Curry continued. “Photo ID cards make it quicker and easier to ensure that students or adults are in the proper location and permitted on school grounds.”
The ID cards also offer first responders a form of identification they may not otherwise have access to depending on the situation.
On Wednesday, citizens questioned the use of the IDs after a letter was sent home with junior high students explaining how the IDs would be used as part of an incentive program.
According to the letter, “all SCJH students will be given a grey ID card at the beginning of the year. However, at the end of each quarter, staff will check grades, attendance, tardies, and discipline. Students who meet certain qualifications in these areas will upgrade to a black or gold student ID card and will be given certain incentives based on their ID card color.”
Every student starts with a gray card and the front of the card will always look the same for all students. At quarters, only the back will be changed for students who reach the described achievement levels.
Superintendent Steve Triplett issued the following statement Wednesday when contacted by the Democrat: "Our new ID badges, also called Tiger One cards, are primarily to enhance security in our buildings. All students and staff members are required to wear their badges in our buildings, which helps us identify those who are visiting and need to check in at our main offices.
“The incentive programs that will be affiliated with the badges are just like those we have had in place before in our district; rather than issuing a separate card, incentive levels will be indicated on the back of the badge. The front of the badge will look the same for all students. The different lanyard colors indicate the student's grade level."
Curry explained the program provides the district the opportunity to give students some incentives to work toward.
“Students that meet certain criteria in the areas of attendance, grades, and discipline will be given rewards for their success,” he explained. “Students and parents are able to track progress toward these goals by monitoring criteria through the online Student Information System.
“The Tiger Pride Card will be set up so that all students have the same card front, and the back of the card will be used to denote the different incentive levels achieved,” he added. “The incentives have not been finalized as we are only two days into the school year and are going to get student input before announcing.”
In past years at Sedalia Middle School, students earning black or gold cards earned special “pop up” privileges throughout the year. Students who earn a gold card for the first three quarters will be able to participate in SMS “Tiger Prowl” (trip to a park, special lunch, etc.) at the end of the school year.