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Schools Using 'E-Hall Passes' To Stop TikTok-Inspired Bathroom Vandalism

NEW KENSINGTON, Pa. (KDKA-TV) - Call it a modern twist on an old concept. A school hall pass used to be nothing more than a piece of paper. However, the New Kensington-Arnold School District in Pennsylvania says it's going to start using a form of an "e-hall pass" moving forward. The moves comes as a means to improve student accountability and prevent student vandalism prompted by a social media challenge.

One of the latest TikTok challenges asks kids to completely destroy school or public bathrooms and post it online. The hope is this new e-hall pass will discourage kids from trying the same thing knowing their teachers know where they are at all times once they walk out of the classroom.

So what exactly are students doing?

"Ripping paper towel dispensers off the wall, plugging up the sinks, letting the water run, creating funnels for water, ripping the sensors out of the sinks and taking the toilet, and throwing it around and dumping the trash," said New Kensington-Arnold School District Superintendent Chris Sefcheck.

Sefcheck says they've seen it mostly at the senior-junior high school. Students so far have ripped out and destroyed some 15 paper towel dispensers that are now placed in an area open to a hallway.

To combat the socially unacceptable behavior prompted by social media, the school district is going to start using an e-hall pass system. "If they wanna use the restroom, they apply for a pass, the teacher has a pin code to approve it or deny it. If they want to go see a teacher, the teacher has to approve it ahead of time," he said.

Sefcheck says the system can be used to keep students who've got a history with each other from meeting, and it also limits the number of hall passes that can be issued at one time school-wide.

"We can set the program or the administration can set the program that you and I aren't allowed to be given a pass at the same time so we can't meet in the hallways," said Sefcheck. The school says the e-hall pass along with the use of cameras will actually help in finding kids up to no good or needing help.

"Let's say there's a fire in the building. You're taking roll and your kid's not here, we can jump right on and see where the kid was and check in the general area," said Sefcheck.

The district says e-hall pass programs are being used around the nation and region and it just makes sense. "Our thing is to provide layers for student accountability," said Sefcheck.

The district says it plans to have the system fully up and running by mid-January. Sefcheck says anyone caught destroying school property will face charges as some have already.

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