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Marion County Schools Weigh Facial Recognition for Security

A West Virginia school district is in talks with Rank One Computing to install facial recognition software that would create a database of known faces and flag anyone on campus who's not supposed to be there.

camera facial recognition
(TNS) — Marion County Schools could soon take advantage of facial recognition software.

Monday night, the Marion County School Board heard a presentation from Rank One Computing, a Denver-based security company whose East Coast headquarters are located in the Mountain State.

Representing ROC at the presentation was the company's CEO Scott Swan, a West Virginia native. The main product ROC offers that interests the school system is ROC Watch, a facial recognition software that "takes dumb cameras and makes them smart," according to Swan.

The program allows the schools to create a database of known faces that will be picked up by the security cameras around each campus. The programs will check faces and check them against databases made by the schools to ensure individuals approaching campus are expected or known.

These lists can also extend to suspended or expelled students to ensure students or individuals not allowed near campus don't disrupt school activities.

The systems also have the capability to detect brandished weapons and exterior doors left ajar.

All these programmed "red flags" will send notifications to the central office along with information detailing the type of alert the cameras have picked up.

This enables what Swan called "frictionless use cases," in which visitors coming into the schools and the administrators can still enter with ease.

"Those frictionless cases are what attracted me to the idea," School Superintendent Donna Hage said. "We don't want our schools to appear as fortresses, we still want them to be inviting."

There are several other districts around the state looking at this technology. Monongalia, Harrison, Taylor and Doddridge counties are considering taking advantage of ROC's facial recognition software, but Swan said Marion County has been given the opportunity to be the first county to have these systems installed.

ROC has been supported by U.S. Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Shelly Moore Capito, R-W.Va.,in their move to West Virginia and Swan hinted at the possibility of funding assistance from the senators in the future to get schools modernized camera systems or help financing ROC's services.

Monday was just a presentation, so no decision was made by the board to purchase any type products from ROC currently.


The board received a final completion date for the East Dale Elementary expansion project. The expansion, which is adding four pre-K classrooms, four Kindergarten classrooms and a new bus loop, will be fully finished by Nov. 28.

"Richard [Pellegrin] and I went up [to East Dale] to see the progress and I think people are going to be real impressed with the work that's been done," Board member James Saunders said.

With an original completion date of October 2022, the project has experienced some setbacks, but less than expected due to COVID-19 and the supply chain issues plaguing the construction industry.

The board also approved two major HVAC projects for North Marion High and East Fairmont High. EFHS's system is the newest among the county's high schools but has been causing problems since the school was built in 1993.

"It is our newest system, but it has been causing problems," Hage said. "These projects are being funded by round three federal funds, which can be used for air quality projects."


  • The board heard a presentation on the success of the Summer SOLE program.

  • The board heard recommendations for several board positions to be filled by county school representatives.

  • The board approved nine resignations of teachers who are either moving to different districts or leaving the profession.

The board's next scheduled meeting is for Aug. 15 at 6 p.m. at the central office.

©2022 the Times West Virginian (Fairmont, W. Va.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.