Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

Personal tools
You are here: Home Resources School Safety Strategies Strategy: Student, Faculty, Staff, and Visitor ID Cards

Strategy: Student, Faculty, Staff, and Visitor ID Cards

Strategy Identification cards for students, faculty, staff, and visitors increase the visibility of individuals who do not belong in . . .


Identification cards for students, faculty, staff, and visitors increase the visibility of individuals who do not belong in the school building and make the facility safer for all who use it.

Crime Problem Addressed

This strategy focuses on increasing the visibility of trespassers, intruders, and suspended or expelled students through identification cards for students, staff, faculty, and visitors. In the MetLife Insurance Company-sponsored 1994 survey, Violence in America's Schools: The Family Perspective, nearly two-thirds of students polled said they believed it would be easy for people who don't belong in their school to enter the building. An identification card system, particularly when combined with access control procedures, deters individuals with no legitimate business in the school from attempting to enter the building and reduces opportunities for on-campus crimes, violence, and drug dealing by unauthorized outsiders.

Key Components

Schools using identification cards issue them to students and staff at the beginning of the school year. Students, faculty, and staff are required to display valid identification cards to enter the building. Usually color coded to differentiate between student classes, and between faculty and staff, the cards are worn throughout the day by everyone in the school building. The visitor ID card is usually larger than any other, making it noticeable and distinctive from those worn by students and staff.

Visitors are issued temporary identification cards after showing a driver's license and signing in as they enter the building. Signs at the main entrances notify visitors that identification is required to enter the school building. The school district purchases, leases, or contracts with a vendor company to provide the identification cards. Each school using the identification system has a distinct card to reduce the likelihood that students or staff could enter without authorization.

Key partnerships

The superintendent and school board must authorize the use of an identification card system and agree to expend funds necessary to implement it. Parent organizations and students should be consulted and informed about the role identification cards are expected to play in the comprehensive security planning for school facilities. Extensive communication with staff, parents, and students is necessary to ensure successful implementation of the policy.

Potential Obstacles

Identification cards can be expensive, particularly for a large school district with many students, faculty, and categories of staff. Administration of the system must be carefully maintained to ensure adequate accounting of students, staff, and faculty transferred into, within, or out of the school system. In addition, some school districts have difficulty staffing school entrances to check ID cards and to sign in visitors. Many districts use staff or faculty to check IDs; others obtain assistance from local law enforcement agencies or volunteer parents. In some school districts, the identification card doubles as the school lunch account card. Combining the two systems on one card reduces costs.

Signs of Success

The Southeast Regional Vision for Education's 1993 report, Reducing School Violence: Hot Topics and Usable Research, recommends students and staff ID cards as one of many successful strategies for "keeping unauthorized persons off campus" and ensuring the safety and security of students and staff.

According to a 1993 study by the National School Boards Association, 32 percent of all school districts surveyed reported successful use of student and staff photo ID card systems. The rate of use was 41 percent in urban school systems. The report highlights seven districts in six states that use the systems with success.

Applying the Strategy

In Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, each school's emblem is displayed on a photo ID card worn by students, faculty, and staff. As part of a security enhancement plan implemented in 1992, visitors and temporary maintenance workers must check in and be escorted to their destination within the school. Costs assessed for lost cards help minimize replacement costs. Other security measures include metal detectors, full-time presence of police officers in school buildings, and closed campuses during lunch hours. Since the comprehensive policy was implemented, the number of unauthorized visitors and the number of guns found on campuses have declined.

From 350 Tested Strategies to Prevent Crime: A Resource for Municipal Agencies and Community Groups

Document Actions