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UCISD swapping Raptor Tech for badge alert system


Editor’s note: The newspaper updated this story on April 23 to include a response from Raptor Technologies. We also added a quote from the U.S. Department of Justice’s report on May 24, 2022.

The Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District is ending its agreement with Raptor Technologies, which reports and staff say failed to operate sufficiently on May 24, 2022.

The board voted April 15 to instead enter a five-year agreement with crisis alert system Centegix starting next school year. Raptor Technologies services will be in place through the 2023-24 school year.

Centegix, which offers a comprehensive mapping system and operates on a network independent of the district’s, supplies employees with crisis alert badges that they wear around their necks. Centegix install its own network that the security system will run on, meaning if school building internet fails or is generally unreliable, the system will still be able to operate.

The badges, if pressed down on a number of times, alert either campus staff or the entire district that an incident is occurring, representatives from the company said. It will also alert area first responders. The program also offers visitor management and reunification features.

Should a teacher determine that a situation is particularly serious, they will notify school leadership, building leadership, Centegix, 911 and law enforcement by pressing on their badge several times. Responders will be able to identify exactly who and where the signal is coming from via a mapping system that lights up and drop pinpoints. Should multiple people press their badges, multiple red dots will pop up on the map. This will not only indicate where the flagging is coming from, but also the severity of any emergency situation.

This response will also automatically sound an alarm and flash red lights within the school building so everyone is aware that an incident is taking place. In some instances, the program is able to override campus monitors and screens to inform all staff to take shelter or otherwise respond to an incident.

Teachers and staff will be required to wear these badges with the regular staff badges they use for entry into school buildings. Although employees will be versed on how to use the badges when issued, representatives from the company said it’s likely it will also be a learn-on-the-go process. They encouraged schools to test badges out on the day-to-day so they’re familiar with how they work.

Superintendent Ashley Chohlis, who connected with the group while lobbying in Washington, D.C., during Public Schools Week, confirmed that entering the agreement with Centegix translates to leaving Raptor behind.

Centegix is used in schools in 14 different states and is  considered a leading security system in Texas, according to a presentation on the tech. The program is utilized in Brazosport ISD, Cotulla ISD, and Alamo Heights ISD, among others.

Chohlis told trustees that the fact the Raptor Technologies app is dependent on cell service and having a phone close by complicates emergency responses. She sees moving forward with Centegix as a guarantee that people can receive rapid assistance whenever an incident is happening, she said.

Chohlis said the group is offering its services at a “very reduced” rate, although figures on the agreement were not included in board documents. Chohlis told the Leader-News on April 16 that Centegix wanted to keep the discounted price private at this time.

UCISD purchased the Raptor software in October of 2021 and had the technology in place during the May 24, 2022, shooting.

Official reports in the shooting’s aftermath assert that the software failed to properly communicate alerts to every school staff member that had the app downloaded on their phones.

Despite this, Ken Mueller, the district’s former student services director, promoted Raptor Technologies and its efficacy during an Oct. 11 webinar on school safety. Mueller, who was suspended alongside the UCISD Police Department the fall after the shooting, ultimately retired from the district.

*A representative from Raptor Technologies in response to this article maintained its technology functioned effectively on May 24, 2022, and that the U.S. Department of Justice’s report and other reporting corroborated that the technology sent out notifications to staff.

“Not only do we have data from the event shows that Raptor’s systems generated nearly 300 alerts within seconds of the lockdown being initiated via Raptor Alert by the principal of Robb Elementary, but Raptor generated these notifications within seconds of the lockdown being initiated before the shooter even entered the building,” Raptor Technologies said in an email.

The U.S. Department of Justice’s report reads that although some staff received notifications on May 24, 2022, others did not.

“In interviews, some UCISD staff indicated that they had trouble receiving alerts on their phones — some did not know why, some apparently were not in the alert notification system and had to be added to receive alerts, and others stated that it was due to poor reception inside the building … Multiple interview participants stated that they never received an alert on May 24, while others did,” according to the report.

Other teachers and staff have said the same to the newspaper.

The company also protested Chohlis’s comment that she was concerned of the application’s reliance on cell service, citing that it also transmits data using wired, cellular and Wi-Fi connection. The company also shared its dispute of the Texas House report that alleges connectivity issues impacted the app’s functionality.

Sofi Zeman (szeman@ulnnow.com, 830-278-3335) is a Report for America corps member who writes about education and crime for the Leader-News.