DHS Administration clarifies new electronic pass system.


An example of the new electronic bathroom pass.

Grant Whitley, Writer

On Feb. 27, the Decatur High School (DHS) administration implemented a new electronic pass system. The system limits the number of hall passes each student can use to two each day or ten a week.

These passes allow students to use the bathroom, access their locker, get water, or visit the Student Center. They also document the location of the trip outside the classroom, and the exact time spent in the hall. Students mark their time out of the classroom by clicking the electronic pass on their device when they leave and return to their classroom, and they are allowed a maximum of ten minutes for bathroom passes. Additionally, they must specify which bathroom they’ll be in depending on which is closest to their classroom.

The proposal for this system started in a DHS faculty meeting and was further researched by DHS administrator Kevin Champion before being collectively decided on by the administration team.

“Our main reason [for implementing this new system] is safety, and we have seen lots of incidents in the hall,” Champion said, “There have been times where we have seen up to 60 to 70 students in the hall at one time, and this new pass system just limits the amount of students in the hall. But it also [helps] with other safety things, like we have seen forged passes some this year, and the digital tracking system makes it a little easier to stop problems like these.”

Immediately after its implementation, DHS students vocalized their disapproval of the new system. In a Student Government Association (SGA) survey, 484 of the over 550 (87.5%) responses did not support the new online pass. 10.8% supported the system but said it needed reform, and only 1.6% actually approved of the current system. 

A common complaint seen throughout the student body was that 2 passes did not allow students to use the restroom whenever they needed. According to the SGA survey, 54% of DHS students reported needing to use the restroom or get water 3-4 times a day, and the new pass system limited their ability to do so.

“We are 100% open to feedback and we continue to look at the data to see what student needs are, and if we need to increase the number of passes per day we will certainly do that,” Champion said.

The statistics shown by the new pass system dispute the claims made by students on the SGA survey, however. During the first week of implementation, the number of bathroom passes peaked at 700. With DHS containing almost 1900 students, this means on average, students use less than one bathroom pass per day.

It is also important to note that having used both passes does not exempt a student from using the bathroom. In case of student emergencies, students can ask their teacher to file another pass for the bathroom or other uses and then will be able to leave the room.

These policies were intended by the administration to limit the excessive use of bathroom passes as a form of skipping class, as well as using passes to wander around the halls or visit places such as the library, cafeteria, or Performing Arts Center unnecessarily. The passes’ ability to track information about the duration and location of each visit will allow administrators to determine which students are allowed to be in the hall.