(TNS) – North Carolina's Henderson County Public Schools has rolled out an online and mobile school safety tool that allows students, parents and the public to report any concerns they see.
The “Report It, Don’t Ignore It” application went live on the school system’s website as well as Apple and Android devices Tuesday. For the upcoming 2018-19 school year, students will be able to report concerning behaviors or safety threats to administrators.
The tool gathers information from users and sends alerts directly to school administrators, who can immediately alert law enforcement if necessary.
“We know that school safety is a community effort,” Superintendent Bo Caldwell said in a statement. “Administrators and law enforcement can only respond to concerns in schools – and parents can only respond to them at home – when we’re made aware of them. Our students and staff are our best eyes and ears.”
Users indicate the school they’re reporting about, and are prompted to provide a brief description of the incident/threat under the following categories: bullying, drugs, fighting, personal crisis, vandalism, weapons and other.
Users can choose to provide additional witness information, names of people involved and whether to provide their own name. Users can make the report anonymously if they wish.
The app and online tool allow users to upload up to three pictures or screenshots of physical or social media threats, in the “Optional Supporting Evidence” field.
“Report It, Don’t Ignore It” also provides key recourses users may need, including contact information for the school, Henderson County Department of Social Services, Sheriff’s Office, Hendersonville Police Department and the Suicide Prevention Hotline.
The app was designed by the school system’s technology department and programmer Grant Atkins. It was vetted by the district’s safety committee – a group that consists of law enforcement, emergency management and parents as well as government and school officials.
The program was also a result of feedback Caldwell has received during meetings with parents, students, law enforcement and other stakeholders.
School officials say the app was a proactive approach to address school safety and to improve the two-way communication between students and administrators.
The N.C General Assembly provided funding in the budget to create a similar school safety reporting app school systems statewide could use.
Caldwell said school systems are not required to use the state app, which won’t be in place until 2019. Caldwell preferred the local control the “Report It, Don’t Ignore” app would have.
“The state is producing one,” said Caldwell. “But I’m not going to sit around and wait on them when we’ve got this right here and ready to go. It shows that we’re doing the right thing for Henderson County Public Schools and our children.”
To help promote the new app to students, the school system produced an informational video featuring 2018 graduates involved in their high school’s student government association.
“We’re on the inside,” recent Career Academy graduate Juana Castillo Lopez says in the video. “We see things adults may not.”
“Report It, Don’t Ignore It” is featured on the front page of the school system’s website, www.hendersoncountypublicschoolsnc.org/, featuring an icon of an eye, as well as the individual school websites.
The app can be found on the Apple App Store and Android’s Google Play by searching “Report It, Don’t Ignore It.”
©2018 Times-News, Hendersonville, N.C. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.