‘Big Brother’ Concern, Parents Criticize School Visit Background Checks

The computerized security proposal to conduct instant background checks on school visitors was heavily criticized at a forum Wednesday night aided by an opinion from David McGuire, staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut.

From Linda Conner Lambeck, CT Post

A security system that would photograph and do instant sex offender checks on everyone who enters a city school was unanimously panned Wednesday at a school board community forum attended by more than 100 people.

Speakers called it “Big Brother,” suggested it would lead to parent profiling and in the end, not protect their children.

Funding to pilot the system was included in a state school security grant that was applied for shortly after the mass shooting at Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown that took the lives of 20 first graders and six adults.

Full story here.
From the American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut

Schools need to protect children but they also need to be aware of the real potential for misuse of technologies like this, particularly when electronic background checks rely on unconfirmed, incomplete or inaccurate information. We’ll be very concerned if parents are blocked from seeing their children in a school event or denied access to a parent-teacher conference only because, for example, they or someone with a similar name had a minor legal scrape in the past or appeared on an unverified list of people merely suspected of gang affiliation. Parents and the rest of the community have a right to know exactly what criteria will be used to exclude visitors, what the process will be for redress, how data about visitors is being stored and who has access to it.

Some additional concerns:
• What kind of identification would the schools accept? More than 21 percent of the households in Bridgeport have no access to a vehicle, according to the Census Bureau, which means those residents have no reason to hold a driver’s license. If they have no other form of government-issued photo identification (say a passport, or military ID) will they be denied entry to schools?

• What kind of watch lists will the schools use? The system allows the schools to add lists of people who are only suspected of wrongdoing, for example a police department’s list of suspected gang members. And schools can apply their own internal lists. People should not be banned from public places on the basis of unverified and potentially inaccurate information.

• How may people appeal a decision to bar them from the schools? It’s difficult to imagine how the schools can quickly and fairly adjudicate cases of mistaken identity or claims of unreasonable bans.



  1. This initiative was in the planning stages for approximately a year and a half without the BBOE or the Parent Advisory Council’s knowledge. Mayor Finch, Vallas, Lieutenant Grech, Captain Porter and Jorge Garcia submitted a state grant application to fund this invasive background ID system without any involvement with the BBOE or parents.

    Joe Larcheveque and Hernan Illingworth presented this Fast Pass background identification system during their respective committee meetings on October 8, 2014.

    The District Parent Advisory Council President attended these meetings and specifically requested before this be presented to the community at large, it should be presented to the DPAC Executive Board and every elected school president and vice-president. After all, those who would be most impacted by this initiative would be parents visiting schools. This would have only delayed the forum until November 6, 2014 or 10 business days.

    Hernan Illingworth, Joe Larcheveque and Kenneth Moales voted unanimously to disrespect the PAC and voted to place it on the agenda for the forum anyway. Although Andre Baker and Dave Hennessey do not serve on the Community Engagement Committee, both supported bypassing the PAC and placing it on the Community Forum agenda.

    All five of them had their hats handed to them last night. Parents and community members both old and new came out in force against this Fast Pass pilot. Not a single person spoke in favor of it.

    These five BBOE members have repeatedly demonstrated they have forgotten they were elected to represent BPS parents, their children and taxpayers, not their personal interests.

    I will definitely be utilizing this as an example of why every BBOE member running for re-election next year should not be re-elected.

      1. BOE SPY, I suggest you read the CT state statutes that govern the role of local boards of education. One of their primary roles is to set policies impacting students, staff and parents. Any BOE absolutely does work on behalf of parents. After all, the students in our schools are minors and parents have complete authority and jurisdiction over their children, therefore parents make decisions for and on behalf of their children, not the children themselves.

  2. The three representatives from Fast Pass were all Caucasian and do not reside in CT. Lieutenant Grech is Caucasian and does not reside in Bridgeport. After several members spoke against Fast Pass and the costs associated with implementing this program, an executive from Fast Pass publicly stated “you people” have been doing your homework. There was such a backlash in the room I honestly thought the meeting was going to explode.

    One community advocate asked Lieutenant Grech a very reasonable question. She wanted to know how many visitors have ever entered one of our schools and sexually assaulted a child. His answer was “I don’t know.” How could he possibly come to a forum on Fast Pass and not be prepared with that answer?

    I had already made that inquiry and my understanding is in the last 30 years, a visitor has never been arrested or convicted for entering one of our schools and sexually assaulting a child.

    This Fast Pass is a complete farce and has absolutely nothing to do with protecting children from sex offenders. It has everything to do with the BPD amassing a database of information about every parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, etc. who visits our schools.

    1. “It has everything to do with the BPD amassing a database of information about every parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, etc. who visits our schools.”

      Maria, I disagree with this. It has to do with Bill Finch wanting to provide some contract work to his new friends. It happens every time he goes to a Conference of Mayors–he comes home with new great ideas. The BPD does as he orders them to do.

    1. As if a normal-appearing parent with a clean criminal record and a kitchen full of knives can’t match or exceed Sandy Hook. As if a normal-appearing person can’t drive a car onto a sidewalk or a school playground full of children and exceed the Sandy Hook numbers. You have obviously fallen for Malloy’s bullshit claim of “The Toughest Gun Bill” in America.

  3. WittyUserName, in order to ask a visitor to show identification and have it scanned through a database to check to see if you are a convicted sex offender, the visitor is already inside the school building. Only an unarmed security guard, secretary or staff person will be manning the Fast Pass security system.
    If you think an unarmed staff person requesting an ID from a mentally unstable individual focused on killing children is going to prevent a mass killing, you are not living in reality.

    In order for an ID to be checked, the individual has already gained entry into the school. Let’s say Adam Lanza rang the school buzzer at Sandy Hook Elementary School and was denied access, wouldn’t he have just shot through the glass, which is what he did anyway?

    Violating the rights and civil liberties of thousands of parents and grandparents is not how solve safety issues in our schools.

  4. First they do background checks on Charter School Employees. Then go on to ignore and pass on doing background checks on BOE employees with the same effort and extent as that done to CSE. Why not do the BOE first including their family members? I’m very concerned about the possibility a BOE family member who comes to the school to visit the relative or pick them up is a child molester.

    1. Joel, every single BBOE employee goes through an extensive background check before they are hired. If you remember, it was Family Urban Schools of Excellence (Charter Management Organization) that failed to conduct background checks on their employees. You have this issue reversed.

      1. And the volunteers? Don’t even try telling me they do. All volunteers I spoke with never gave fingerprints. I wasn’t just talking about BBOE employees. I did mention a relative of BBOE employees in my example.

        1. I don’t know what legal premise you would rely on to require family members of BBOE employees to submit to a background check. I believe it would never be upheld in a court of law.

      2. Maria, go back and research that a bit. Family Urban Schools of Excellence (Charter Management Organization), did not actually fail to conduct background checks. I believe a law firm was hired to do the background check and one of them claims they knew as he had provided some details of his conviction.

        1. Joel, he was employed for over three months before they completed a background check. He never admitted he was a registered sex offender. That was discovered during the background check.

  5. Lennie, would you be kind enough to post precinct by precinct numbers from Bridgeport from 2010? It will be interesting to see those numbers compared to those coming in on election day, might tell us all we need to know if Malloy holds on or not.


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