Friday, August 8, 2014
Being bullied in school? Notice a student stealing in the lunchroom? See a knife in a classmate’s pocket?
There’s an app for that.
Starting this school year, students, parents and school volunteers will be able to use their smart phones and computers to anonymously report school safety concerns to principals and district officials.
In preparation for this coming school year, Georgetown County School District has gone live with a new safety tip reporting system, SchoolMessenger Quick Tip.
The system can be accessed online from each of the schools’ and the district’s websites, and has an associated downloadable app for the Google Play Android and iPhone.
District Safety and Risk Management Director Alan Walters gave the school board a tutorial of the system at its Aug. 5 meeting.
Those who access the website or the app first select the school and topic from dropdown menus, then type their concern in the message box.
There is also an opportunity for the informant to attach a photo to the tip. Space is available to insert contact information, but it is optional, giving the informant the opportunity to remain anonymous.
Once submitted, the tip is sent via email to the school principal, administrators, and the safety and risk management office.
“That way we can make sure of a prompt and appropriate response,” said Walters.
False reporting is a crime, Walters said, and if the schools receive any false reports through the system the information will be handed over to local law enforcement.
GCSD is one of the first education systems in South Carolina using the system. According to Walters, a Lexington County school district began using Quick Tip in April, and while within the first two weeks there were two false reports, there was also one report of a gun that was determined to be true.
“It’s been very well-received in other districts [in other states],” Walters continued.
Before Quick Tip, the school district was using a “1-800” tip line to receive information. According to Walters, the new system is less expensive than the hotline and the switch will save the district money.
“I think this is going to be a valuable tool for us,” he said, “especially for cases of bullying and peer pressure.”
SchoolMessenger Quick Tip is now live, and anyone wishing to make a report may access the web page and download the apps at the school district website homepage, www.gcsd.k12.sc.us, under the “Quick Links” column on the left side of the screen, or on each of the individual schools’ websites.