Published Online: December 1, 2008

Parents Sue Texas School Over Sex Offender Check System

A background check system used by many Texas schools to spot visitors who are sex offenders is being challenged by two parents who say the process violates their privacy and other rights.

Yvonne and Larry Meadows are suing the Lake Travis school district over a computer system that checks visitors against a sex offender database by scanning their driver's license. Visitors who don't consent can be turned away.

The federal lawsuit filed in November is believed to be among the first legal challenges to the policy in Texas. Houston-based Raptor Systems, which performs background checks for Lake Travis and 5,000 other schools nationwide, said it was unaware of similar lawsuits.

The Meadowses say the computerized checks violate their constitutional rights, including freedom to associate with their children at school and freedom from unreasonable search and seizure. Neither are listed in the national sex offender database.

Yvonne Meadows said she objected to Bee Cave Elementary School scanning her license because she was concerned about identity theft and a private company collecting her personal information.

"Raptor sold (their system) on this 'registered sex offenders, we need to be on guard,' idea but it was primarily a visitor management system," Meadows told the Austin American-Statesman in its Monday editions.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages.

Lisa McBride, the lawyer for the Lake Travis school district, said the district thinks its system is reasonable and fully complies with state and federal law.

Yvonne Meadows said she was refused access to school events unless her license was scanned. She filed a grievance asking the school to instead check her status against the Justice Department's online sex offender database, according to the lawsuit filed in Travis County.

The district denied the grievance, and Meadows asked the state education commissioner to review the decision. The review is pending.

Other Raptor clients in Texas include the Dallas school district and Southside school district in San Antonio.

The Austin school district has the Raptor system in most campuses, paying the company $182,000 in startup costs and an annual $50,000 service fee.

Vol. 28

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