The parents of Claiborne school system students will have the opportunity to work with TN CHIP (the Tennessee Child Identification Program), on a voluntary basis. The program has been shown to significantly increase the chances of a safe return of missing or abducted children.
The Claiborne school board unanimously approved the motion last week to allow TN CHIP coordinator Clifford Hunter and his wife to offer the noninvasive 15-minute, per student program.
While at each school campus, the couple will collect identifying information and DNA samples via computer. The materials are immediately packaged and handed over to the parent. The computer is then ‘scrubbed’ of the information to insure the complete privacy and safety of each participant, Hunter said.
Some of the identifying markers that will be collected include the child’s name, address, height, weight, hair and eye color. Whether he wears corrective lenses and the locations of scars or moles will also be included in the package. DNA will be collected by a mouth swab and a voice identification software program will be used as additional identifying markers.
A current photo is included in the package, along with fingerprints and contact information.
“Anyone who wants to do this is eligible. We can do an infant from six weeks old to a 90-year-old person. We don’t discriminate. We’ve been doing some people that are mentally ill – those with dementia and other diseases,” said Hunter.
About 45 identification packets, so far, have been completed at the various special events inside the county, Hunter said.
“Since the introduction of this program, we’ve seen an increase from 67 percent to 97 percent in the safe return of missing kids and adults,” said Hunter.
A missing child was reported recently in Virginia.
“A kid was picked up by its father at 12 o’clock. By 5 o’clock, he was back with his mother,” said Hunter.
Once an individual is confirmed missing, the caregiver can take the packet to the police station for use in identifying the person, once located, he added.
The board approved the program, pending background checks of those who will conduct the program inside the schools. The principal of each school must also give their approval before scheduling can occur.
In other action, the board unanimously approved Matt Compton as the non-faculty golf coach for H.Y. Livesay Middle School.
Joey McFall and Caylen Heck were approved as the non-faculty basketball coaches for the Forge Ridge boys’ and girls’ teams.
Students at both high schools will now have the opportunity to complete online college courses and ‘blended’ learning through the Niswonger Foundation. The board unanimously agreed to partner with the organization, which offers courses not always available at a ‘brick and mortar’ school.
The Foundation also helps transfer students, those that cannot attend school for an extended time due to illness and those that must retake ‘failed’ courses so that they do not fall behind.
The board gave its ‘thumbs up’ to the memorandum of understanding between the county and the Tennessee College of Applied Technology (TCAT) – Morristown Campus. TCAT offers dual enrollment classes for those wanting to certify as a production technician. Qualifying Claiborne High School students will gain postsecondary credits and work-based credentials, while still in school. Certification can then be completed at the TCAT campus in as little as three months from the time the student graduates from high school.
Reach Jan Runions at 423-254-5588 or on Twitter @scribeCP.