The Newton school board is looking into possible changes in their security procedures following revelations that a man accused of luring a 14-year-old Baxter girl into his vehicle had visited two Newton school buildings. Thirty-three-year-old David LaVera of San Diego, California pretended to be an actor in the “Twilight” movie and is accused of inappropriately touching the Baxter girl.
Newton superintendent Bob Callaghan pointed out that all the investigations of LaVera since the story broke have not turned up anything that would have raised a red flag prior to his visits to the schools. “As far as I can tell, no criminal history of any form, whether it be a sex offender or felony has shown up. If it had, we would have heard about it from somebody,” Callaghan says. “That should not lesson our concern about the safety and security of our buildings.”
Board members were given information about the “Raptor” I.D. system that’s used in Ankeny. The system checks the identification of visitors against the national sex offender registry database. It would cost the district $13,000 to $15,000 to install the systems at every building and annual maintenance would exceed $2,500.
Callaghan says the district has already spent a lot of money on security upgrades recently — including automated door locks and video cameras. “We have the entire video of this individual’s visit at every one of our campuses, and we have it all on videotape. So we know exactly where he was and who he was with,” Callaghan says. Callaghan says they expect to install even more video cameras in the schools net year.
One recommendation made to upgrade security is to require anyone who enters the school to have some form of state-issued identification. Callaghan says there’s been some push back on that idea. “We brought this up a year ago. Parents without state I.D.’s or without driver’s licenses are concerned. It’s much less of a concern to me to say we should require all individuals to have some from of state identification,” Callaghan says. “It is the law of the land, it is an expectation. And I realize people may not want to have that. I am sorry that they may not want to have some form of I.D., but we need to have that for the safety of our children.”
Three school board members are going to look into possible changes in security in the district.
(Reporting by Randy Van, KCOB, Newton)