UCISD swaps Raptor Tech for badge alert system

Ashley
Cholis

The Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District is terminating its agreement with Raptor Technologies, which was not functioning satisfactorily as of May 24, 2022.

The board voted on April 15 to instead enter into a five-year agreement with the Centegix crisis alert system starting next school year. Raptor Technologies’ services will be available during the 2023-2024 school year.

Centegix, which offers a comprehensive mapping system and operates on a network independent of the district’s, provides employees with crisis alert badges to wear around their necks. Centegix installs its own network on which the security system will run, meaning that if the internet in the school building goes down or is generally unreliable, the system can still work.

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

Should a teacher determine that a situation is particularly serious, they will notify school administration, building management, Centegix, 911 and law enforcement by pressing their badge multiple times. Emergency responders can identify exactly who and where the signal is coming from via a map system that lights up and drops dots. If several people press their badge, several red dots will appear on the map. This not only indicates where the flagging comes from, but also the severity of any emergency situation.

This response will also automatically sound an alarm and flash red lights in the school building so everyone is aware that an incident is taking place. In some cases, the program may override campus monitors and screens to notify all personnel to shelter in place or otherwise respond to an incident.

Teachers and staff will be required to wear these badges along with the regular staff badges they use to access school buildings. While employees will know how to use the badges when they are issued, company representatives said it will also likely be a learning process along the way. They encouraged schools to test out badges daily so they became familiar with how they work.

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

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

Chohlis told trustees that the Raptor Technologies app’s reliance on cell service and having a phone nearby complicates emergency response. She sees the progress with Centegix as a guarantee that people can get help quickly if an incident occurs, she said.

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

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

Official reports in the aftermath of the shooting claim that the software failed to properly relay alerts to every school staff member who had downloaded the app on their phone.

Still, Ken Mueller, the district’s former director of student services, promoted Raptor Technologies and its effectiveness during an Oct. 11 webinar on school safety. Mueller, who was suspended from the UCISD Police Department in the fall after the shooting, eventually retired from the district.

Sofi Zeman ([email protected], 830-278-3335) is a member of the Report for America staff and writes about education and crime for Leader-News.