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Doherty High School requiring students to wear ID badges in response to off-campus shooting

October 6, 2017 Updated: October 7, 2017 at 7:19 am
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Police walk someone within the police perimeter to an ambulance across the street from Doherty High School in Colorado Springs, Colo. on Friday, Sept. 22, 2017. The person later left from the scene without giving a comment. (The Gazette, Nadav Soroker)

Slightly more than two weeks after a Doherty High School student was wounded in a shooting off campus in the parking lot of a nearby business, students are being required to wear ID badges or face disciplinary action.

Students at Colorado Springs District 11 schools had been required to wear ID badges, but the rule hadn't been enforced. That changes Monday at Doherty, D-11 spokeswoman Devra Ashby said Friday.

"It's always been something that was in place for students," Ashby said. "Doherty is just taking a more aggressive stance in making sure it's enforced."

No arrests have been made in the shooting, and the two suspects and a person of interest identified by police are juveniles. Ashby said the ID badges allow school officials to know who everyone on campus is and whether they belong there. With about 2,000 students, Doherty is the district's largest high school.

Shortly before noon on Sept. 22, three Doherty students were off campus during lunch when they got into a "confrontation" with at least two people in a car in the parking lot of a business in the 4600 block of Austin Bluffs Parkway, police spokesman Lt. Howard Black said.

One person got out of the car and fired several shots, hitting one student twice. The student was expected to recover, police said.

Arrest warrants have been issued for two male juveniles, police said. A third juvenile has been identified as a person of interest.

For a week after the shooting, students weren't allowed to leave campus during lunch or free periods. But it was difficult to keep that many students on campus, Ashby said, because of a lack of space in the cafeteria. Students ate lunch during staggered periods instead of having one lunch time.

Businesses patronized by students also were suffering. Students spend an estimated $5,000 at businesses while off campus during school hours, Ashby said.

Doherty Principal Kevin Gardner met with nearby businesses before letting students leave campus again, Ashby said. They discussed ways businesses could secure the area surrounding the school at 4515 Barnes Road in northeast Colorado Springs, including installing security cameras and hiring an off-duty police officer.

"People were shocked that the principal would open campus again," Ashby said. "But we are preparing students for both academic success and social interactions. Allowing the students off campus allows them to test their social skills in nearby businesses."

Only sophomores, juniors and seniors in good academic standing are allowed off campus. Mitchell High School is the district's only high school that restricts students to campus during the school day.

Students who are not carrying their badges will receive a warning before disciplinary action is taken, ranging from detention to suspension.

Staff members also are required to wear their badges.

Janae Rodriguez, a senior at Doherty, said wearing IDs feels like a waste of time.

"They know I go there. They know my name. They say hi to me every day," she said while attending Friday night's homecoming football game. "It's stupid. There was a 20-minute line for people to get their ID - like, why can't we just go to class?"

Another student, Alex Wasilowski, disagreed.

"I don't really think negative about it," he said. "I think it's going to make the school a lot safer."

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Gazette reporter Vinny Benedetto contributed to this report.

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