A man accompanied a woman to a Tennessee elementary school early Monday morning to register her child for classes.
It was the first day of school for the Johnson City school district, and teachers and administrators were welcoming back hundreds of students at each of its schools.
But the man didn’t get very far, and he was arrested on school grounds later that morning.
That’s because police say he was a registered sex offender from another state.
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But what ultimately led to that discovery was a computer program, according to the district.
In an interview with WCYB, school officials at South Side Elementary credited its web-based visitor check-in system with catching Robert M. Atwell Jr., a registered sex offender from Missouri, on school property.
The program was created by a Texas-based company called Raptor Technologies, according to WCYB. The company’s website says its program is used in more than 22,000 K-12 schools across the country to alert schools to registered sex offenders trying to get inside.
A video explaining its visitor management system says it works by placing a visitor’s government-issued ID into a scanner. The scanner uploads the visitor’s information to Raptor, which checks sex offender registries in all 50 states.
According to the Raptor video, it can also manage child custody issues and notify authorities through text messages and emails.
Atwell, 40, was arrested Monday on suspicion of knowingly violating the sex offender registry, the Johnson City Police Department said in a news release.
Police said Atwell, who is from Marceline, Missouri, “was in violation of the Tennessee sex offender registry when he entered the school property while not having a reason or relationship involving custody or responsibility for the child.”
He was booked into the Washington County Detention Center, and bond was set at $10,000.
According to the Missouri Highway Patrol’s sex offender registry search, Atwell was convicted of sexually assaulting and molesting a teenage girl in 1996 and 2000.